The actor talks about the unknown struggles of looking in shape which have almost nothing to do with actually being in shape.
Knowing how long it takes to get into a conventionally desirable shape, most people decide not to. However, Zac Efron got into the desired shape and decided never again. While he was extremely excited to join this action and comedy franchise, Baywatch, he wasn’t expecting the recovery to be this traumatic, as told to Men's Health.
He's been a child star, a fitness pinup, an onscreen himbo, and an environmental activist. But @ZacEfron hasn’t always been healthy. Now he’s reinventing himself again, and he wants to do it right.— Men's Health Mag (@MensHealthMag) September 7, 2022
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“I started to develop insomnia,” he says, “and I fell into a pretty bad depression, for a long time. Something about that experience burned me out. I had a really hard time recentering.” Considering how he had to wake up at 4:00 am to train and take diuretics, it doesn’t strike up as surprising. “That Baywatch look, I don’t know if that’s really attainable. There’s just too little water in the skin. Like, it’s fake; it looks CGI’d,” he says. “And that required Lasix, powerful diuretics, to achieve. So I don’t need to do that. I much prefer to have an extra, you know, 2 to 3 percent body fat.”
The journey Efron has gone through with his body warrants a new perspective on how we look at men’s bodies in popular mainstream media. Henry Cavill weighed in on how training for The Witcher is painstaking, he told Men's Journal. “The training for these kind (sic) of things, the most important thing is your own health. It’s so you can stay physically fit without injuries while doing all these crazy things—things like being thrown against pillars or jumping out of airplanes,” he explains. “That’s what it’s really for. Yes, you’re supposed to look a certain way aesthetically, especially when you’re taking your shirt off, but mostly it’s for staying healthy.”
The shirtless scenes generally call for a much different tactic than just normally working out. Called ‘dehydrating,’ this technique helps their muscles, for the lack of a better word, pop. “That’s the worst part of it,” Cavill said. “Like, diet is difficult, and you’re hungry, but when you are dehydrating for three days, you get to the point on the last day where you can smell water nearby. [Doing the dehydrating] makes your skin really thin, so sits on the muscles and they really show.” Trying to lighten the very concerning piece of information he shared, he adds, “It’s not no water for three days—the first day you’ll have a liter and a half, second day half a liter, and third day no water, and you’ll shoot on the fourth.”
Actor Tom Holland too tried to get in on the dehydration fad while filming Spider-Man: Far From Home, however, he then shared his experience on social media, adding the disclaimer that it’s not that good for you. While these are just a few experiences of actors looking a certain way to fill out a role, it is truly concerning how visual aesthetics get prioritized over health at some point. Zac Efron openly talking about his struggles as an actor with an image, is a step in the right direction. Maybe someday people won’t have to recover for six months after doing a challenging project.