Taylor Lautner is getting candid about body image.
The actor recently shared how starring in the Twilight movie franchise, where he played werewolf Jacob Black, impacted the way he viewed his body.
"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," Lautner said on The Squeeze podcast Feb. 1, "no, I did not know that it was affecting me or going to affect me in the future with body image, but now looking back at it, of course it did, and of course it is going to."
Lautner recalled the physical transformation he undertook to play the character, as well as the toll it took on him.
"In the first movie, I was 140 pounds, and in New Moon I was 175," he continued. "So yeah, that wasn't my natural body. I had to work very hard for it and very, very hard just to maintain it."
After the franchise ended in 2012, the 30-year-old detailed his hesitation of going to the gym after being "forced to be in a gym multiple times a day, six days a week" while filming Twilight.
"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," he 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 body builder or ripped guy in any way. I thought I looked fine."
He continued, "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."
The comparison images had a grave effect on his mental health, with Lautner noting he would "get in shape and let it go."
"I've gotten healthy again, but in order to get my body physically healthy, it took my mind getting healthy first," he said. "But yeah, those side-by-side images continued for years and years, and it messed with me. It hurt."
Reflecting back on the experience, Lautner emphasized why prioritizing mental health and self-care goes hand-in-hand with body image.
"Your body can look unbelievable, you can be ripped, shredded, whatever you can lose weight, you can put on muscle," he said, "and if you're not healthy mentally, then that's all for nothing because that can work against you."
For men experiencing body image issues, Lautner issued a reminder that what they see in the mirror can be a product of how their brain "sees things differently."
"It's not as bad as you think," he said. "You always tell yourself that it's worse than it is."
Above all, Lautner said that taking care of your body should be done "for the right reasons."
"Don't find happiness in what you want your body to look like," he said. "Don't think just because you lose the 20 pounds 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."