Ethan Suplee was first introduced to audiences as bully Frankie Stechino in Boy Meets World, before etching out a successful character acting career in movies like Remember the Titans. Today, Suplee is still acting, but there is one big difference. The once surplus sized actor has become absolutely ripped and looks like he could lead his own action franchise. This is how Ethan Suplee turned his life around!
Television Comes Calling
At just 18-years-old, young actor Ethan Suplee was cast as Frankie "the Enforcer" Stechino in Boy Meets World. With his size, he created an intimidating figure for young Cory Matthews to face on a daily basis in school.
The show didn't just paint Stechino as a bully though, it showed the softer, more poetic side to Stechino in several episodes. These moments allowed Suplee to show just how talented he really was, which eventually led to supporting roles in feature films.
Kevin Smith Cast Him In Mallrats
Shortly after introducing himself to the world with Boy Meets World, Ethan Suplee was cast by Kevin Smith in Mallrats. It was the actor's first major role and placed him alongside Jason Lee. The two would later reunite for My Name Is Earl.
After Mallrats became an indie success, Smith kept calling Suplee back for more movies. A few of the more notable View Askew movies he starred in for Smith were Dogma and Chasing Amy.
More Dramatic Movie Roles Followed
Proving he was a more dynamic actor that people gave him credit for, Suplee began taking small roles in dramatic films. One of his biggest roles that showcased his acting range was American History X.
He also starred as Louis Lastikin 2000's Remember the Titans. For a while, it seemed like new roles were pouring in. From 2000 to 2005 Suplee was featured in 13 movies, averaging nearly three a year. His drive to work seemed unstoppable, but was he really happy with the roles he was getting?
A Reunion With Jason Lee
Although Ethan Suplee was finding steady work as a character actor, he found himself headed back to the small screen in 2005. Suplee was cast as Randy in My Name is Earl, which reunited him with Jason Lee.
Randy became a fan favorite on the show, which ran for four seasons and was nominated for several awards. During the run of the show, Suplee was noticeably thinner than he had been earlier in his career. Was this the start of his miraculous weight loss journey?
His 20-Year Journey Begins
On his podcast, American Glutton, Suplee recently opened up about his long-fought battle with his weight. He was never a small child, and when he was just five-years-old, his grandparents became concerned about his size and began limiting his food.
This, in turn, led Suplee to eat in secret, further leading him to put on even more weight. By the time he was ten-years-old he weighed more than 200 pounds and preferred to eat alone when no one was watching.
Weight Management Programs Didn't Work
As Suplee's family became more and more worried about him, his parents decided to enroll him in a weight management program. When this proved uneventful, his mother pulled him out of the program.
After that, Suplee admits he stopped caring about his diet altogether. It wasn't until years later when a chance encounter with another celebrity set Suplee on his path of wellness. Before that happened though, he said he "became enormous."
Jim Caviezel Changed His Perspective
It was the early 2000s when Ethan Suplee was flying first class and Jim Caviezel sat down next to him. The two knew each from nearly working together on a Robin Hood movie that never came out.
Caviezel, who famously played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, had some not-so-kind words for Suplee: "He sat down and he started talking to me about how he and his life emulates Jesus Christ and that if you don't do that you're gonna go to [expletive]." Surprisingly Suplee wasn't mad, but happy about the conversation.
Suplee Took Caviezel's Words To Heart
Suplee admitted that he could have had a negative reaction to Caviezel's words, but instead took them to heart. "Nobody ever talked to me like that... He wasn't mean, but it was a thing I had not experienced."
On his podcast, he continued, "I remember landing and going, 'That was an awful experience,' what am I gonna do, fight Jim Caviezel?" The more Suplee thought about it, the more he realized he ever wanted to let someone talk to him like that again, "I hold no ill will against him. The [expletive] conversation worked!"
Since He Started Dieting, His Weight Has Always Fluctuated
When he isn't acting, Suplee says his two passions are eating and dieting. This type of lifestyle has led massive weight fluctuations, "I've gained and lost probably close to 1000 pounds at this point and have done all the diets."
Those diets include Atkins, Zone, intermittent fasting, Blood Type, and South Beach. All in all, he says, "I went from 530 to, at my lowest, 220." Working in an industry that pigeonholes actors, Suplee found that losing weight meant he was being offered fewer roles.
"We Don't Know Who You Are"
To get down to 220 pounds, Suplee began biking obsessively. " I actually did get properly thin at one point – I was nine percent body fat," he said. "But I was also riding a bicycle six to eight hours a day, six days."
He was so small that when he went out for roles, producers would tell him, "We don't know who you are, you're not what we were enjoying before." His wife also told him, "Hey, idiot, you can't retire and ride bicycles. You have to go get a job."
Suplee Listened To Hollywood
After being told he was unrecognizable, Suplee decided to put weight back on because "maybe it'll be better for work." He added, "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."
Suplee put weight back on but never got back to his peak. Oddly enough, even though he was big again, he still had one role that he "wasn't big enough for."
He Nearly Lost His "Chance"
By 2017, Ethan Suplee was working on his weight and his diet. At this moment in his career, he auditioned for the Hulu original series Chance. Producers knew he had lost weight in the past, and thought he would be too small for the role, even though they wanted to cast him.
Suplee's agent had to convince casting directors that he was big again. "I'd gained a bunch of weight back because I actually didn’t find being thin all that it’s cracked up to be," he said. "So we convinced them that I was heavier again, and I went in, and that was that. I was heavy enough."
Suplee Is Unrecognizable Today
In 2019, Ethan Suplee co-starred in Motherless Brooklyn, a period piece directed and starring Edward Norton. Suplee is unrecognizable in the film, and was even more disguised doing press for it.
You can see that not only he is now sporting a more svelte figure, but he's also grown an impressive beard. Honestly, he looks more intimidating now than he did as Frankie Stechino in Boy Meets World. Suplee's journey to get healthy isn't over yet, though.
Chance Introduced Him To Weight Lifting
While filming Chance for Hulu, Suplee fell in love with weight lifting. Unlike biking, he found it was manageable with his busy schedule and he didn't feel frail after a workout.
Speaking to Men's Health, Suplee said, "I found that I really enjoyed lifting weights and I could get my workout in an hour, and so that wasn't like a huge part of my day. Even if I had a really long work day, I could go before or go after."
Now that Ethan Suplee is living a healthy life with a stable weight he has new goals. First, he wants to get down to ten percent body fat. Then, he wants to get a six-pack. And finally, he wants to be able to deadlift twice his body weight.
Suplee says he's not too far away from achieving his six-pack and calls it an "utterly vain goal." Today, he lives life at 260 pounds and feels healthier and happier than ever.
He Taught Himself Food Science
One of the most important lessons Ethan Suplee learned from his two-plus decades-long battle with his weight was about food. Once he started taking his health seriously, he taught himself the science behind the foods he ate.
Looking back now, he says, "The most important thing I would want anyone to take away is that for me, the biggest change was understanding how food works. And the more I feel that I understand, scientifically, the more power I have over it."
He's Fine If Being Healthy Costs Him His Career
Now that Ethan Suplee has started his podcast and dedicated himself to his health, he's not worried about his acting career. He says, "I made my career as the fat guy. I don't want to be fat anymore. If the podcast is what I have to do make a career, that’s fine."
His new lifestyle is permanent, not one of the many fads he has picked up and dropped in the past. For him, maintaining his weight and muscles is now what he cares most about, not the vanity of Hollywood.
What Is His Podcast About?
So far we've mentioned Ethan Suplee's podcast, American Glutton, multiple times. But what exactly is it about? Now that Suplee has changed his life, he's using his podcast to "investigate" diet culture and obesity.
Suplee feels like this is the first time in his life he's ever been able to maintain a certain lifestyle. Maybe that's why he decided to start his podcast, to help discern myths from reality and health rights from health wrongs.
Despite fears that his weight loss might lead to fewer acting roles, Ethan Suplee is still in high demand. Not only did he star in Chance on Hulu in 2017, in 2019 he was featured in Santa Clarita Diet, The Ranch, and Motherless Brooklyn.
If you go to his IMDB page, Suplee currently has two movies in post-production; The Hunt and Gossamer Folds. The Hunt was actually supposed to come out in 2019 but was delayed after controversies arose over its subject matter.
Suplee's Workout On Chest Day
When news of his weight loss and muscle gain spread, Men's Health got in touch with Suplee to ask him about his workout routine. He shared his typical chest day workout with the male wellness magazine.
Chest day for Suplee starts with a pre-activation power plate pushup workout. He then moves on to three sets of dumbbell incline flies followed by three sets of dumbbell incline presses. Next, he does three sets of low bench presses, three sets of cable scoops, three sets of dumbbell pullovers, three sets of dumbbell French presses, and finally four sets of double skullcrushers with holds.
He Directed A Music Video For Beck
In 2003, Jason Lee was chosen to be the director of the music video for Beck's track, "Lonesome Tears." Working on the video helped open the doors of directing for Lee, allowing him to get creative behind the camera, rather than in front of it.
After the project with Beck was completed, Lee had caught the directing bug and wrote on his website that he intended to "make something more 'official' with his Bolex 16 mm camera."
The Music Video Helped Inspire A Short Film
Lee claims that the direction he took with Beck's music video helped to inspire the creation of his own short film titled The White Door. The short film starred Giovanni Ribisi and Beth Riesgraf.
His relationship with Beck not only helped push him to pursue directing and test his talents, but it also provided him with some crucial connections. Before long, Lee was directing multiple music videos for the American folk-rock band, Midlake.
Scientology Put A Strain On His Marriage
In 1995, Jason Lee married his first wife, Carmen Llywelyn, an actress and photographer. Throughout their marriage, Lee made a point to get Llywelyn involved with the Church of Scientology, a religion that was a big part of his life.
However, the couple divorced just six years later after Llywelyn admitted that she had read the anti-Scientology book A Piece of Blue Sky. She was then labeled as a "Suppressive Person" by the church, lost her manager, and not long after, Lee began divorce proceedings.
He Began Dating Again
Then, from 2001 to 2007, Lee became romantically involved with actress Beth Jean Riesgraf. The couple bore a son named Pilot Inspektor Riesgraf-Lee in 2003, and soon after the couple was engaged. Riesgraf was also involved in the show My Name is Earl, acting as the character Natalie Duckworth.
In the end, the two never were officially married, and it was assumed that it had to do with Lee's deep devotion to the Church of Scientology once again.
He's Done His Share Of Voice Acting
Although some people may not have realized it, just one year before making his debut as Earl Hickey on My Name is Earl, he provided the voice behind the antagonist Syndrome in Disney's The Incredibles.
It was the first time that Lee had ever lent his voice on-screen, and his character turned out to be a massive success along with the rest of the film.
He's The Father Of The Chipmunks
In 2007, Lee took a break from playing the goofy Earl Hickey to take up the live-action role of Dave Seville, the adoptive father of the animated chipmunks in the Alvin and the Chipmunks Movie. He played the role again in the follow-up video game.
Incredibly, the film actually did well in the box office, raking in $361 million worldwide. It also led to the development of three sequels: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Alvin, and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip.
Other Voice Acting Gigs
After the incredible success of The Incredibles, Lee reprised the role of the film's villain in The Incredibles video game, the video short titled Jack-Jack Attack, and the Disney Infinity video game franchise.
Lee must enjoy doing voice acting as the antagonist characters, as he is also regularly featured on the Cartoon Network animated series We Bare Bears. In the show, Lee plays the villainous role of Charlie, a Bigfoot-like character.
Testing Out New Characters
After NBC's My Name is Earl came to an end, Jason Lee took up a role that few people expected. For the most part, Lee had been cast as eccentric and humorous characters, but in 2010, that all changed.
He took up a different kind of role in the brief TNT series, Memphis Beat. In the series, Lee played a detective of the Memphis Police Department named Dwight Hendrix. During the day, he's on the beat, however, at night, he works as an Elvis impersonator.
Onto The Next
Unfortunately, Memphis Beat wasn't as successful as anticipated and the show was canceled after just two seasons. Shortly after the Memphis Beat had ended, Lee made his way back to NBC where he would play the recurring role as Kevin on the sitcom Up All Night starring Will Arnett and Christina Applegate.
During his time on the show, he was featured in seven episodes. However, he took a permanent hiatus halfway through season 2 before the show was canceled.
Stepping Away From Scientology
Jason Lee had been a devout Scientologist for more than two decades, with his dedication to the religion resulting in the failure of two of his romantic relationships. It was even speculated that his second wife Ceren Alkac also left him due to his involvement with the church.
However, these suspicions turned out to be nothing but rumors. In fact, the couple didn't break up because of Scientology but even decided to leave the Church of Scientology together.
Moving To Denton, Texas
It was later revealed in a 2016 interview with The Dentonite that the couple began to stray away from Scientology around the same time they moved to Denton, Texas with their three children.
In the interview, Lee noted that, "We're not here to buy up or change or take over Denton, put some kind of personal stamp on it [...] "We're just here like anyone else who wants to be a part of Denton's very cool creative community, and to be involved and perhaps help where we can."
The Potential For A Sitcom
Actress Alyssa Milano was featured in ten episodes of My Name is Earl as Billie Cunningham, Earl Hickey's criminal wife. The two had such great chemistry on screen that the executives at CBS had a bright idea during the 2016-2017 season.
They ordered a sitcom between the two to be filmed under the titled What Goes Around, Comes Around. Although the duo definitely had the potential to make the sitcom a hit, unfortunately, the show never made it past the pilot stage.
He Owes A Lot To Kevin Smith
It's no secret that Jason Lee owes a lot of his early success in his early career to actor and director Kevin Smith, especially when it comes to the film Mallrats which really helped to kick start Lee's career.
So, fans of the film were ecstatic in 2015 when Smith announced that a sequel to the cult film was underway. He tweeted, "20 years in the making. 113 pages fulla old friends & new jokes. This is for you, Jim. Wish you were here. #MallBrats"
The Sequel Crashed And Burned
Jason Lee was going to reprise his role as Brody Bruce in Mallrats. However, there were some complications and although the sequel was meant to be released in theaters, that wasn't the case. Apparently, getting the rights back from Universal proved to be more difficult than thought.
However, instead of giving up, Smith improvised and pitched the idea for television. At that point, it seemed that Lee would still make his return, but even though the show was pitched to six different networks, none were interested.
He's A Skateboarder At Heart
Prior to becoming a major actor, Jason Lee was a professional skateboarder, although he hung up his board in 1995. However, although he may have left the skateboarding world, he still kept one old-school partnership In 1992, he came together with his good friend Chris Pastras to create the brand Stereo Skateboards.
Lee went on to take a break from skateboarding for eight years but brought the company back to life in 2003. The company is known for its unique aesthetic and love for music and filmmaking.
He Is A Talented Photographer
In October 2015, Lee published a series of Polaroid and Fuji instant photos that were released in a special issue of Refueled Magazine. Although there were only 500 copies, each of them was signed by Lee and quickly sold out.
Since then, Lee has also had two successful photo exhibitions in Austin, Texas, which inspired him to team up with Refuel once again in 2017 to publish his release "A Plain View." The project was the first for the Instagram and photography group Film Photographic, which was founded by Lee in 2015.
He Likes Being Behind The Camera
In recent years, Lee has been devoting most of his time to his offscreen passions. On his website, he notes that he is planning on bringing his love for shooting Polaroid film to the big screen in a documentary from Greg Hunt.
He is also currently working on a photo book and a skateboarding film, proving his mastery of several mediums. He's made it very clear that he's in the process of shifting his focus from the bright lights of Hollywood to focusing on what he loves.
He's Been Involved With Tony Hawk
Being a former professional skateboarder, Jason Lee has a lot of connections to the skateboarding industry, including being good friends with Tony Hawk. In 2012, he participated in the ninth annual Stand-Up for Skateparks Event run by Tony Hawk.
The foundation helps to provide underprivileged children with skateparks in their area. On top of that, Lee was also involved with the development of the video game "Skate 3" with Tony Hawk, voicing the character of himself and Coach Frank.
He Helps Raise Awareness For Cancer
In October 2012, a video was released by the Keep A Breast Foundation. The short film featured several skateboarders including Lee and his business partner Pastras, among other professionals. The Foundation's goal is to raise awareness about breast cancer, even selling popular bracelets in which the proceeds go towards cancer research.
The film also featured Clint Peterson and Giovanna Reda, who are both skateboarding teammates on Lee's skateboarding company, Stereo Skateboards. Together, they managed to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.
He's The Co-Owner Of A Restaurant
In 2015, Jason Lee became the co-owner of the Barley and Board, a restaurant/bar located in the downtown square of Denton, Texas. The restaurant is the creation of John "Sparky" Pearson, Eric Pulido of the indie group Midlake, and Lee.
The menu is designed to be paired with beer with the menu heavily relying on snack-based food items. The restaurant is also noted for its vegetarian-friendly options, drawing in a diverse crowd from around the area.