Ethan Suplee: How He Went From Hollywood’s Fat Guy To Lean And Mean

By Rick Gonzales | 12 months ago

Ethan Suplee

It’s an unbelievable story of before and after, only to return again to the before and finally dedicating to the after. Let’s clear up this confusion. We are talking about actor Ethan Suplee but we are not talking about his acting career (though we will). We’re talking about his weight gain, weight loss, gain again, then ultimate dedication to the loss and being fit.



By the time he was 10-years old, Ethan Suplee tipped the scales at over 200 pounds. The actor says it was then that his father put him on a liquid diet of protein shakes and diet sodas. He was able to drop a few pounds but his mother didn’t care for the diet so she pulled him off. His weight ballooned over the ensuing years.

His acting career began as an 18-year old in projects such as Tales From the Crypt (his first role), Mallrats (which he starred in with his My Name Is Earl co-star Jason Lee), Chasing Amy, 35 Miles From Normal, and 11th Hour. These roles came as he was also starring as Frankie “The Enforcer” Stechino in the TV series Boy Meets World.

Ethan Suplee
Ethan Suplee on Boy Meets World

While “noticeable” in all his roles (mainly for his size), he truly became noticed as an actor in the movie American History X. As Seth Ryan, Suplee found the role of a violent white supremacist understandably a difficult chore. But it was a role that earned him recognition for more than just his girth.


Ethan Suplee

Ethan Suplee’s role in American History X opened doors for other films. He followed X with Dante’s View, Takedown, Road Trip, and Vulgar, a rough movie where he appeared as a man who raped a clown. This led Suplee to another well-known role as the vastly overweight football player Louie Lastik in the movie Remember the Titans.

Not only did Suplee’s weight explode during that time, but the actor also says he was probably at his heaviest, a robust 530 lbs. during the filming of the movie. Of his weight during that time Suplee guesstimates that he “gained and lost probably close to 1,000 lbs. at this point.” All this from massive overeating, then extreme dieting which caused him to regain all that weight.

Butterfly fat

The roles he searched for early on were roles where he hoped the focus wouldn’t be on his weight but ultimately, he ended up in “roles for fat kids.” He explained to PEOPLE, “I never wanted to do something where I was the fat guy who was the butt of a fat guy joke,” he says. “I told my agents to look for roles outside the box that could work for me. There were instances where somebody would want to add a line about me being fat and I would just say, ‘Hey, no, we’re not doing that.’”


Ethan Suplee on My Name Is Earl

Ethan Suplee’s acting career didn’t suffer. He continued to get parts. Whether it was based on his size or his acting ability, who knows for sure. He can act though.

In the early 2000s, Suplee found himself in many feature films. He played Tuna, Johnny Depp’s pal and drug-dealing partner, in Blow. He was also seen in John Q, The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest, The Butterfly Effect, Without A Paddle, and Neo Ned. During this time, he also made appearances on TV series such as Third Watch and Entourage.

Ethan Suplee as Randy
Ethan Suplee as Randy on My Name Is Earl

It was in 2005, though, that Ethan Suplee found one of the roles that he is perhaps best known for. He was Randy Hickey, brother to Earl, on the hit TV series My Name Is Earl. It was a noteworthy comedic turn by Suplee in a series where he was reunited with Jason Lee.


The Hunt

The roller coaster that has been Ethan Suplee’s weight is once again on the downside and it looks, for all intents and purposes, this is where it will stay.

Suplee credits his now-wife for inspiration. During his PEOPLE interview, he explained that he was dating Brandy Lewis (sister of actress Juliette Lewis) and knew when they got married that kids were in the plans and that trips to Paris or even going on hikes at the time was tough for him. So, it was time to get serious and make the weight loss stick. “I knew that if I didn’t change, I wouldn’t have that future,” he says. “That was the motivation that kept me at it.”

In a three-year timespan, Ethan Suplee dropped from 530 lbs to around 290 lbs but he couldn’t keep it off. He got lazy and gained weight during his My Name is Earl years but again lost it when the show ended. “I went down to 220 lbs. and stayed there for a bit, but I got there by doing like eight hours of cardio a day, six days a week,” he told PEOPLE. “I was doing a lot of starvation-type diets and not eating enough at all. So I gained weight again.”

He tried many things including Keto with a 10% body fat goal. “I was getting smaller, but I wasn’t starting to show muscle definition the way I wanted to show it,” he says. Instead, the research-driven Ethan Suplee read up on fat cells and muscle retention, and decided he wanted to get down to the point where he has just 10 percent body fat.”

Now he thinks he has found what works. It’s a lean, high-protein diet with limited fat, quite similar to what you’d see bodybuilders eat. And, he works out.

Ethan Suplee is close to his 10% goal, though he tried to make his diet as “unenjoyable” as possible. “I’m trying partially because I’m a little bit of a masochist, but also because I want food not to be a crutch emotionally. I want it to be a source of fuel.” But then he adds, “I actually am eating more food than I have in years. We went on vacation for Thanksgiving and I was really scared that I might gain a bunch of weight. But I didn’t gain any weight because I’m really eating the way I should be eating. It doesn’t feel fragile.”

To help others with their weight-loss journey, Ethan Suplee has created the American Glutton podcast. In it, he shares his journey from fat to skinny to fat and skinny again. He talks about what works and how to stick with the plan. He also brings in many guests who also share their ideas on how to lose weight and keep it off.

Oh yeah, he continues to work non-stop in Hollywood. His latest ventures include Chance, Santa Clarita Diet, The Ranch, and Good Girls. He was also recently seen in the feature film Motherless Brooklyn, where he was reunited with his American History X co-star Edward Norton.

Ethan Suplee
Ethan Suplee in Santa Clarita Diet

Ethan Suplee’s journey is one of perseverance and want to. It also helps that he is a solid actor.