Will Poulter is shining a light on the warped reflection of Hollywood.
The “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” star called out the emphasis on looks in the film industry, citing the “backhanded compliment” behind a “glow-up” transformation across his career during a wide-spanning interview with GQ.
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“It’s funny — when things trend like that on the Internet, all context is lost and a big one is talking about overnight transformations. The one that went viral in relation to me was a picture of me in ‘We’re The Millers’ next to a picture of me in ‘Guardians.’ There’s literally 10 years between those two pictures but people don’t even realize it,” Poulter said. “Someone in the pub two days ago said, ‘Oh, you’ve had a glow up. Congrats.’ It’s a little bit hard to not accept that as, ‘You were ugly for the best part of your life, and now things are looking up a bit!'”
The “Midsommar” alum added, “I don’t know if that’s just me being cynical, but it’s hard to not take it as a backhanded compliment. People say it like it’s positive, but it could also contribute to a complex.”
Poulter continued, “It was weird when people started to debate my physical appearance online as to whether it was deemed attractive or unattractive. I am very comfortable and secure in the knowledge that I’m not conventionally attractive as I’ve always had remarks about looking unusual — whether it’s my eyebrows or whatever else, people have made a thing of that. I think it just speaks to a wider issue, of: Why are we discussing or spending so much time discussing people’s physical appearance? Especially in the case of women. But whether you’re male or female, why is that the focus so much? Unfortunately, social media has created this problematic idea that everyone’s opinion on everything matters equally.”
Following his viral turn in Ari Aster’s horror film “Midsommar” and subsequent dating rumors surrounding his co-stars, Poulter noted that his level of fame skyrocketed to an “uncomfortable” height.
“For the last few years, virtually every day, someone takes a photo without asking, which is uncomfortable,” he said. “To a large degree, male privilege has protected me from that kind of objectification and the idea that up until now really I’ve been able to go about my job and not have my physical appearance be something of a subject matter — that privilege hasn’t been afforded to my female counterparts in the industry.”
Poulter turned his attention toward staying in shape, namely hitting the gym harder to play Adam Warlock in James Gunn’s final Marvel film.
“When I’m in a mentally unhealthy state, how do I manage my relationship with those things? Physical exercise has been the thing that has really sustained me more than anything else,” Poulter said. “All I know is I worked as hard as I could, safely and naturally, to conceivably pass as a superhero. If that isn’t enough for people, fair enough, but I’m not prepared to compromise on the way that I went about it. I can’t be an advocate for mental health and simultaneously be promoting anything other than responsible and natural bodybuilding. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel like I’m suggesting there is a body type that is better than anybody else’s body type.”
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