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Taylor Lautner Says Twilight Saga Caused His Body Image Issues

Taylor Lautner
Taylor Lautner

Vera Anderson/WireImage

Taylor Lautner is opening up about his struggle with body image after filming the Twilight saga.

On an episode of his new podcast The Squeeze — which he hosts alongside his wife, Taylor Dome Lautner — the 30-year-old actor discussed how although topics of body image are often associated with women, "being viewed as having this unbelievable body" in Twilight was difficult on him.

"When I was in it, when I was 16 through 20 years old, starring in this franchise where my character is known for taking his shirt off every other second, no, I did not know that it was affecting me or going to affect me in the future with body image,"  Lautner began. "But now looking back at it, of course it did, and of course it is going to."

Lautner played werewolf Jacob Black in all five Twilight saga movies, rounding out the series' love triangle opposite Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen.

For the role, the actor has to make an impressive transformation from human to wolf in New Moon, going from skinny teen to hunky sex symbol. At the time, he credited his routine of five days a week at the gym – and a 3,200-calorie daily diet – with getting him in werewolf shape.

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Now, Lautner admitted that the physical transformation took a toll on his body.

"It was my entire life," he admitted. "In the first movie, I was 140 lbs., and in New Moon I was 175. So yeah, that wasn't my natural body. I had to work very hard for it and very, very hard just to maintain it."

Lautner said for years he was "forced to be in a gym multiple times a day, six days a week" so after the franchise ended, he started "rebelling against the gym" and stopped working out entirely.

"What happens when you don't want to see a gym? You start losing the eight pack. I started having more normal of a body," Lautner said. "I remember one of the first times seeing it online was very tough. I was filming a movie called Run The Tide, and my character in that is not supposed to be a bodybuilder or ripped guy in any way. I thought I looked fine."

"But then seeing it online where they put the side-by-sides of me shirtless in the ocean in a scene from that movie compared to me in Eclipse or whatever and being like, 'Wow, he's let it all go.' I was like, 'Oh, man. Did I really let it all go?' I didn't think I looked that bad," he continued.

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The criticism, which he says continued for years, ultimately caused Lautner's mental health to decline. The star said he had to learn how to prioritize self care and not focus on body image by getting his mind healthy first before getting his body healthy.

During the podcast, Lautner also thanked his loved ones who helped get him through those tough days, sharing that he's in a good place now.

"Your body can look unbelievable, you can be ripped, shredded, whatever you can lose weight, you can put on muscle, and if you're not healthy mentally, then that's all for nothing because that can work against you," he said.

"Don't find happiness in what you want your body to look like," Lautner added. "Don't think just because you lose the 20 lbs. or put on the muscle, you're going to wake up and look in the mirror and all of a sudden be happy. That's not where you should be finding value."