'I’m not going to kill myself to be thin when nobody knows me as a thin person,' the 'Chance' actor tells EW's 'What to Watch' podcast

By Ray Rahman
March 14, 2017 at 09:05 AM EDT
David Moyle/Hulu/Courtesy Everett Collection
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Ethan Suplee is one of those character actors you see everywhere: Boy Meets World, My Name Is Earl, American History X, The Wolf of Wall Street — and most recently, Hulu’s psychological thriller Chance, in which he stars alongside Hugh Laurie.

But as Suplee reveals on the latest episode of EW’s What to Watch podcast, he almost didn’t get the role. Why? He was too skinny.

“Inititally, the casting directors didn’t want me to come in because I’d lost a bunch of weight,” Suplee said. “Apparently they had proposed me a bunch of times, but the casting directors were like, ‘No, he’s too thin now.’”

But as it happens, Suplee was working on gaining back a few pounds at the time. “I’d gained a bunch of weight back because I actually didn’t find being thin all that it’s cracked up to be. So we convinced them that I was heavier again, and I went in, and that was that. I was heavy enough.”

In fact, Suplee notes that when he was thinner, it was much harder for him to find work. “After My Name Is Earl, I started obsessively riding bicycles. I actually did get properly thin at one point — I was nine percent body fat. But I was also riding a bicycle six to eight hours a day, six days. After two years of that, my wife said, ‘Hey, idiot, you can’t retire and ride bicycles. You have to go get a job.’”

“So then [when I started looking for work], I found that people were like, ‘Who are you? We don’t know you. You’re this new person.’ So a couple years ago I made the decision: I’m not going to kill myself to be thin when nobody knows me as a thin person, and I do think it is affecting the kind of jobs I’m getting. And so I just kind of relaxed on my diet.”

Now playing a partner-in-crime character to Laurie’s Dr. Eldon Chance on the Hulu series, Suplee still gets his workouts in from the show’s many physical scenes. “The fight scenes have been really interesting. I, in my life, trained in Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu, and this is a whole other thing. [My character D] is very advanced in a discipline called Kali, which comes from the Philippines, and has very non-linear striking and movement,” he said. “It’s a lot of strikes to the neck and to the body … it was a whole different set of ideals I had to learn for this [show].”

To hear more from Suplee’s interview about his career and his role on Hulu’s Chance, check out the latest episode of EW’s What to Watch podcast, in which the hosts also discuss the Golden Globe nominations, Star Trek: Discovery, and the upcoming season of The Bachelor. Listen above and subscribe for the latest new in TV and streaming.

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