How Actor William Jackson Harper Stays in Shape For His Shirtless Scenes

As an actor, William Jackson Harper is a grasp of his craft. The 41-year-old from Dallas, TX, earned his stripes in a wide range of smaller roles together with “30 Rock” and Law & Order earlier than taking pictures to worldwide fame as Chidi in “The Good Place,” a gig that earned him a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for his work.

With Harper now taking the lead in Season 2 of HBO Max’s “Love Life” (premiering Oct. 28), M&F talked with the person himself to seek out out whether or not he’s a romantic man at coronary heart and the way he prepares for these nerve-wracking scenes that require him to get slightly extra intimate.

In “Love Life” season 2, the main focus shifts from Anna Kendrick’s character Derby Carter, over to William Jackson Harper’s portrayal of Marcus Watkins, a damaged man that finds himself all of a sudden thrust again into the courting scene. So, is the actor a romantic soul off-screen? “No, not at all,” laughs Harper. “And my girlfriend will vouch for that. I don’t think in terms of romance, so much as I just try to make my partner happy when I can. I did pull off this one really great surprise birthday party for her. I’m proud of that and she was very touched by it.”

Harper is a revered thespian with loads of stage expertise, and he’s additionally conscious that appearing is as a lot bodily as it’s emotional. Never was his extra evident than when a shirtless scene in “The Good Place” set pulses racing and went viral on the web. Now, with scripts requiring him to reveal extra flesh in “Love Life,” Harper lets us in on the method.


Failing to organize is making ready to fail

“I have to try and stay in shape throughout the year,” he shares. “And yes, I am panicked as soon as I read those scripts. I’m a lot more strict with myself when shooting, in a way that could be described as punitive [laughs]. But I do try to stay at a certain baseline throughout the year so that it’s no so intense.”

Harper says that his dietary habits are primary, and that his go-to strategies for leaning up are the tried and examined rules of accelerating protein consumption whereas decreasing carbs. “I taper off how much I eat, during the course of the day, so that by the end of the day I’m not shoveling a bunch of food in my mouth,” he says. “I generally try to stay away from simple carbs, but because I do work out, you need [some carbs in your system] to use, in order to get through the workout, build a little muscle, and maybe just have the energy to actually get your body to do things. So, I go lower carb, but I just don’t go in the ‘basement’ where I’m strict about eating zero bread or zero gains.”

William Jackson Harper will get critical

Several weeks out from a scene that requires Harper to take his shirt off, the actor begins to tighten the management on what he’s consuming. “I really do ramp up the protein intake,” he says. “I try to keep [meals] to lean proteins and vegetables, for the time that I’m shooting, and usually for a solid month to a month-and-a-half, upwards to 2 months before, because I also know that once I am shooting, the diet stuff gets a lot harder to maintain. And also, the workouts get a little harder to maintain.”

Harper says that it’s all about stability. He likes to work out and throws cardio into the combination in order to assist him keep on observe together with his health objectives. He additionally tracks his macros by utilizing Snap Kitchen to be sure that he’s getting the correct quantity of vitamins. The readymade menus are additionally handy for Harper when taking pictures lengthy hours, taking the trouble out of designing and making ready wholesome meals. As for the fitness center, the actor makes 5 to 6 visits per week. “I usually do cardio two to three times per week, where I’ll run somewhere between 3 and 5 miles,” he says. “I weight train three to four times per week.” Harper splits his exercise days, specializing in completely different physique components. He additionally likes to make use of his personal body weight as a part of his general health routine, so situps and pushups are staples.

Harper makes use of bodily type as artwork

Just as Harper studied the craft of conveying emotion to be an efficient actor, he’s additionally conscious that the bodily type that he takes up on-screen is crucial to his portrayal of every function that he takes on. When he’s pushing himself to discover a specific aesthetic, Harper calls on his long-time private coach, Anwar Carrol. Harper isn’t trying to be the subsequent Incredible Hulk, however many followers have been calling for him to play Superman. “I just follow [Anwar’s] advice,” says Harper. “He really pushes me. He’s great and I love working with him.”

The actor is appreciative that his job requires him to remain in form, as a result of he enjoys the advantages of feeling wholesome and energized. As for his extra intimate scenes, Harper is conscious that placing on an genuine efficiency means stepping out of his consolation zone. “Yeah, it’s embarrassing and challenging,” he laughs. “I hate taking my shirt off! I hate it, ha! But, you know, there is a certain pride that you get out of facing the stuff that you are afraid of.”

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