William Jackson Harper Describes The ‘Destructive Process’ Behind His Shirtless Scenes On ‘The Good Place’

I gasped twice while watching The Good Place.

The first time was Michael’s laugh (I will not say any more in case you, for whatever reason, still haven’t watched The Good Place; you should watch The Good Place). The second was when Chidi took his shirt off. Eleanor told us he was “surprisingly jacked,” but I’m not sure anyone expected this. It was a big reveal for The Good Place fans — it was also a vulnerable moment for William Jackson Harper, who played Chidi.

“I was terrified of taking my shirt off because I’d always been made fun of as a kid,” he told the Los Angeles Times while promoting season two of HBO Max’s Love Life. “And as I’ve gotten older, and especially as I started to work on TV, I started working out a little bit more and trying to eat a little bit better. Working out was something that was very meditative for me, and I really enjoyed it. But when I got that script, I definitely ramped it up. I found myself at the gym at 5 a.m. before going to set.”

Jackson Harper said he was “fully prepared to just get made fun of and roasted.”

“I do think a lot of dudes have some sort of body dysmorphia, body issues and a lot of fear around it. Men are mean to each other. When I have a show that requires me to take my shirt off, it’s a highly regimented, sometimes destructive process that I go through to get to a place where I feel comfortable with my body.”

His remarks echo what Kumail Nanjiani said about changing his body for Eternals. “Having other people decide how you feel about yourself — none of that goes away. It’s all still there,” he said. “What you have to do is somehow figure out how to have self-worth from within yourself. I don’t know how to do that, but I’ll let you know once I find the key.”

Love Life premieres on HBO Max on October 28.

(Via the Los Angeles Times)