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Jesse Metcalfe Admits He Felt a Lot of ‘Pressure’ Being Shirtless on ‘Desperate Housewives’

Jesse Metcalfe Felt Pressure Being Shirtless Desperate Housewives
Jesse Metcalfe at the ‘Christmas Under the Stars’ film screening in Los Angeles on November 20, 2019. AFF-USA/Shutterstock

Adjusting to fame. While looking back at the attention that came from playing John Rowland on Desperate Housewives, Jesse Metcalfe admitted that he struggled with being “criticized and picked apart” based on his looks.

Related: ‘Desperate Housewives’ Cast: Where Are They Now?

“Being a sex symbol is very much about the roles that you play and my roles put me up on a pedestal,” Metcalfe, 43, explained during an interview with i-D earlier this week. “Having your shirt off in every episode of Housewives brought a lot of pressure.”

The California native rose to fame when he took the role of the good-looking gardener in Desperate Housewives, a show he appeared on from 2004 to 2007. Metcalfe recalled having to always focus on working out, which affected his body image at the time.

“You have to stay in the best shape you can and then between projects, everyone expects you to stay in that shape 24/7, 365. That’s not realistic,” he noted. “You can run your body into the ground working out, not to mention the other things male actors do to stay fit.”

The John Tucker Must Die star also felt like his participation on Desperate Housewives caused him to be typecast.

“I was definitely caged by it. The industry tends to think if you look a certain way that’s all you have to offer. The best thing I could’ve done at that time was be patient, which I was not,” Metcalfe shared. “I did a string of indie films that didn’t work and should’ve kept my nose clean, so to speak. Between jobs I just didn’t know what to do with myself.”

Although the Chesapeake Shores alum found success on the ABC hit drama, he revealed that he “wasn’t ready for so much exposure” at the time.

Related: Stars Who’ve Hit Back Against Body-Shamers

“I was 26, and I think [my] meteoric rise coalesced with the rise of the internet. It was like a tidal wave,” he explained. “Everything was getting thrown at me, and I was enjoying myself, but it was never something I had control over or made conscious decisions about. It was more that it was happening to me.”

Metcalfe noted that even though there were plenty of “opportunities” and “a lot of perks” being on the show, it was too much to handle. He explained: “It was bigger than me and all-consuming and I was swept up in it. But then it all comes crashing down in the quiet moments, when you’re home alone. I was trying to stay focused on my career but there were a lot of distractions, especially LA nightlife. I was out four or five nights a week. That’s what you did in the early 2000s.”

Related: Celebrities That Are Leading the Body-Positive Movement

The Dancing with the Stars alum shared how he “definitely built character” during that period in his life.

“I had to really look within and figure out who I really was because that’s the foundation. I’ve done a lot of soul-searching and a lot of therapy. I’ve come out stronger and better having been through what I’ve been through in my career,” he detailed. “I wouldn’t go back and change anything. The pain you experience is nine times out of 10 a lesson you need to learn. That pain doesn’t go away until you’ve learned it.”

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