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Bradley Whitford has been around long enough, in life and in Hollywood, to know that men and women are not treated the same when it comes to aging.
"Honestly, men are lucky as hell," Whitford, 62, tells PEOPLE in the latest issue. "We get celebrated for aging. It's unfair and it's crazy. I remember my mom, who had absolutely nothing to do with show business, would talk about how unfair that is, that men become distinguished and women become invisible. I have siblings and my sisters talk about that a lot. It's unfair. I have been celebrated for aging, which is bizarre."
The Emmy winner and Not Going Quietly executive producer, currently starring in a touring production of A Christmas Carol, is a featured player in our annual Sexiest Man Alive issue this year, an event which brought out the actor's healthy sense of humor during his PEOPLE photo shoot and interview and included many jokes made at his own expense, leaving the crew in stitches.
"This is basically Sexiest Man, Barely Alive," Whitford quips about his participation, adding that being in our "Dad Bod" act means that he only "kind of cares a little bit" about his physique. "You want to be healthy. You don't want to be photographed in a magazine."
Upon learning about his inclusion in the issue this year, Whitford instantly thought not of himself but of a former West Wing costar and friend/playful frenemy.
"My first thought was, 'This is going to kill Josh Malina,' which made me very happy," Whitford jokes (The two have a playful relationship, one recent installment of their prank saga featured Malina receiving a Scandal wrap "gift" that was an oil painting of Whitford).
For more on the Sexiest Man Alive — and more of Hollywood's hottest men! — pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.
On a slightly more serious note, however, Whitford does readily admit that the best shape of his life was "when I was a lot younger, many decades ago." He adds: "As my father would say, I have a bright future behind me."
"I started walking a lot [during the pandemic], which I love to do. It's sort of an anti-anxiety, anti-depressant," he says. "As I've gotten older, I have to be careful with my knee. I'm doing a play right now, and so I've been going to a gym and sort of pathetically lifting weights sort of regularly, and walking, and just getting up and down counts as a squat."
The key to his overall wellbeing, however, is sleep.
"If I don't get enough sleep, everything just falls apart," Whitford explains. "I used to be able to get away with not sleeping, which you can do when you're young."
Not Going Quietly, the documentary Whitford produced, is now available on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, iTunes, and more. For more information about tickets and tour dates for Whitford's A Christmas Carol, click here.