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Taylor Lautner says pressure to have 'unbelievable body' on 'Twilight' led to body image issues

The actor said staying fit became his "entire life."

Taylor Lautner has an important message for anyone who thinks that men aren't affected by body image issues.

The actor is best known for starring as Jacob Black, a kind-hearted werewolf, in the wildly popular film series "Twilight."

On his new podcast "The Squeeze," which he hosts with wife Taylor Dome, Lautner said he worked hard to maintain his character's ripped physique while filming the five movies.

But this strict diet and strenuous workout schedule impacted his self image, even if he didn't realize it at the time.

Nearly 15 years after the first film was released, the 30-year-old reveale he struggled with body image issues when he wrapped up the film series.

"If you can get through that (experience) without having body image issues, kudos to you. But for me personally, yeah (I experienced them),” he told Dome.

The pressure to have an "unbelievable body" was intense, the actor said. Lautner, who was 16 when the first "Twilight" premiered, said it was easier to maintain those standards when he was a teenager, but had to keep up appearances as he aged and the franchise progressed.

“It was my entire life,” he said.

Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart in "Twilight: New Moon."
Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart in "Twilight: New Moon."Entertainment Pictures / Alamy Stock Photo

In the first “Twilight” film, Lautner weighed around 140 lbs. By the second film, he'd bulked up to 175 lbs.

“That wasn’t my natural body. I had to work very hard for it and very, very hard just to maintain it,” he said.

When the franchise ended in 2012, the actor “started rebelling against the gym” because he was sick of sneaking in multiple workouts a day. He got to the point where he thought he never wanted to go to a gym ever again.

Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse."
Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse."Alamy Stock Photo

As a result, Lautner explained, his body changed, and he started “losing the eight pack.” When he was filming the 2016 movie called “Run the Tide,” the actor was hurt by fan-created side-by-side images, meant to show how his body had changed since his "Twilight" days.

“I thought I looked fine. But then seeing it online where they put the side-by-sides of me shirtless in the ocean in a scene from that movie compared to me in ‘(The Twilight Saga:) Eclipse' or whatever, and being like, ‘Wow, he’s let it all go.’ I was like, ‘Oh man, did I really let it all go?’ I didn’t think I looked that bad,” he said.

The fixation on his body continued for years and would “come in waves." As a result, Lautner admitted that he has struggled with body image for a decade. “It messed with me and it hurt, he said.

Lautner realized that he had to focus on his mental health if he wanted to develop a healthy relationship with his body.

"In order to get my body physically healthy, it took my mind getting healthy first," he said.

The actor now believes that a fit body is "all for nothing" if you're not taking care of your mind.

"For so long, I told myself, 'If I get my body back to where I want it to be, then I'm gonna be happy again," he said.

Lautner said men aren't always included in the conversation about body image issues, and that' something he wants to change. He offered two pieces of advice for other men who might be able to relate to his situation.

“First of all, it’s not as bad as you think. You always tell yourself that it’s worse than it is. ... You distort things. Your brain just sees things differently," he said.

The 30-year-old left listeners with one remaining thought on the matter.

"Don't find happiness in what you want your body to look like. Don't think just because you lose the 20 pounds or put on the muscle, you're going to wake up, look in the mirror and all of a sudden be happy. That's not where you should be finding value," he said.