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Dewey From Unstoppable Looks Completely Different Now

You might not remember Ethan Suplee by name, but you certainly know his face. 

The more than six-foot Manhattan-born television and film actor came from a family of thespians and was all over our screens in the 1990s and 2000s. Suplee earned his first credit around 18 when he appeared in a 1993 episode of the horror anthology series Tales from the Crypt. But his first notable role was a year later in Kevin Smith's cult classic Mallrats, where he starred as William, an unkempt and clutzy young man determined to find the image of sailboat hidden in a Magic Eye picture. 

Suplee has become one of Hollywood's most recognizable supporting faces, taking on more than 50 roles, and repeatedly collaborating with selective creatives like Denzel Washington, Edward Norton, and Kevin Smith. Across three-decades, Suplee has nabbed roles in big-screen features like the 2010 Washington, Chris Pine, and Rosario Dawson-led Unstoppable, where he appeared as Dewey, the railroad hostler's whose poor decisions and negligence lead to a runaway freight train incident. Other films include American History X, Remember the Titans, Cold MountainThe Wolf of Wall Street, and the time-travel movie The Butterfly Effect. He's also no stranger to the small screen, starring in numerous television series, most notably as Randy Hickey alongside Mallrats co-star Jason Lee in My Name Is Earl, and as characters in Boy Meets World, Raising HopeSanta Clarita Diet, and The Ranch

While you've likely seen Suplee in one of his projects, you might not immediately recognize him today. The 44-year-old actor, who has most recently had roles in Motherless Brooklyn and NBC's Good Girls, has opened up about his 20-year weight journey and shared his dramatic physical transformation over Instagram. He's also talking about his life-long journey towards healthier eating habits in his podcast, American Glutton, which features interviews with bodybuilders, fitness experts, and even fellow celebrities like Kevin Smith, comedian and former MADtv cast member Will Sasso, and Chicago Med and Empire actress Alexandra Grey.

Ethan Suplee's bad eating habits started with a family obsessed with his weight

At one point in Suplee's career, the actor weighed more than 500 pounds, resulting from a decade's long battle with dieting. Both his weight and what he ate was an issue for him going back to the age of five, he revealed during the debut episode of his new podcast (via People). After becoming a binge-eater so young, Suplee went on to weigh 200 pounds by the time he was 10. Speaking to his life-long battle with weight and dieting, the actor said that he believes he's "gained and lost probably close to 1,000 pounds at this point." 

He attributes his unhealthy relationship with eating and exercise to being forced to go on walks and having his grandparents restrict his diet. "I learned really quickly that if I wanted a second helping of lasagna when I cleared my plate, I had to eat it in the kitchen without them seeing, that I was not supposed to have that second helping of lasagna," Suplee recalled. 

Being put on a daily walking schedule, which he described as a "forced march every morning," made him hate exercise, and having someone lording over his portion sizes while he ate taught him another harmful habit: sneaking food. What started as late-night trips to the fridge evolved into scouring for 24-hour drive-thrus with friends and buying three meals to eat at once. 

"I had this idea now that food was something that people didn't want me to have, so if I wanted to have more, I needed to do it privately, and it became something that I was withholding from people," he said on the podcast.

Ethan Suplee's weight has gone up and down his entire career — and nearly cost him jobs

During the first America Glutton episode, Suplee noted how his weight impacted his daily life, revealing that the emotional and mental health issues it wrought led to him using food, alcohol, and drugs to "numb" himself throughout his teenage years before getting sober in 2002. In an op-ed for Men's Health, he further detailed the smaller ways his weight impacted his life, including physical pain that made him question whether he'd be able to walk the next day; having to hold his breath in an elevator so no one could hear how hard he was breathing, and wondering whether "every chair or bench would support my weight." 

As a result, he began trying to slim down — even losing hundreds of pounds after picking up cycling following the end of his run on My Name is Earl. "I lost a s—load of weight. I went from 530 to, at my lowest, 220," Suplee said on his podcast. "At 220, I was very, very thin."

But once he did, he ran into another hurdle. The My Name Is Earl star told People that he became somewhat "lazy and relaxed" about his eating while starring on the show, he had become more focused on fitness and his diet in the years that followed. It was then he discovered that casting directors didn't want to hire him because the Remember the Titans actor no longer weighed enough in their eyes. 

Seemingly unable to get work without being heavier, Suplee eventually just gained more weight. "At some point, I was like, 'Well f—, I'm just gonna get fat again because maybe it'll be better for work,'" he recalled on American Glutton. "And honestly, it was."

A TED Talk helped Ethan Suplee rethink the role of food

In a more recent interview with People, Suplee pointed to his desire to have a family, travel, and reach personal fitness goals as the inspiration for him finally committing to a new body. "I knew that if I didn't change, I wouldn't have that future. That was the motivation that kept me at it," he explained. 

After losing upwards of 100 pounds on a low-carb diet, Suplee realized that the diet's nature was literally making his body jump through hoops in an unrealistic and unhealthy way. "I was one-fifth less the man I was, but I wasn't seeing the benefits I thought I would. I struggled at the gym. I had trouble building muscle and endurance. I looked smaller but felt no stronger," he wrote in his op-ed for Men's Health. "All this, I finally admitted to myself, was madness.

It would ultimately be TED Talks that helped the actor get his mind in the right place to begin living a healthier — not necessarily thinner — life. "My new approach began and ended with a simple premise: Nothing was really off-limits," he wrote for Men's Health. "As I became more calorie-conscious, I started to binge less and fill up on healthier foods. After a few months of this, calories stopped being calories. They started being food." 

Now Ethan Suplee focuses on his personal fitness goals and no longer using food as a "crutch"

Speaking to People, Suplee said that his whole relationship to food now is different, with him no longer using it as a "crutch." He also told the magazine that roles no longer dictate what his weight is. "This is how I want to look," he said. "If somebody said, 'We're going to remake American History X and Cold Mountain and some of your favorite movies that you were in when you were fat, and if you want to be in a movie, you got to gain weight.' I'd pass. I don't need to do it."

On his podcast, the long-time actor has shared his personal fitness goals and noted that they're now very much in reach, including his desire to deadlift twice his weight. "My goal right now is a six-pack, and I'm not far off. Pretty f—ing close actually," he said. "So it's an utterly vain goal. I don't care. Who cares? I've never had a vain goal like that before."

And in his personal essay for Men's Health, Suplee called diets "defective" and compared his experience with yo-yo dieting to a "sort of hell." Now that he's let go of those bad habits, Suplee has found the right way to look at food for himself. "By putting in the work to devise my own way of eating (which, and this is important here, may not be your way of eating), I've taken back control from diets that commandeered my free will."