Boy Meets World’s Ethan Suplee On Treatment He Received As An Overweight Actor And How The Sitcom Helped Him Find Acceptance

Boy Meets World had a profound effect not only on its devoted fanbase but the cast as well. While the actors have spoken on the harsher side of the ABC sitcom, they’ve also opened up multiple times about the lasting impact the show had on them. The latest alum to speak on its lasting impact was Frankie “The Enforcer” Stechino actor Ethan Suplee. Suplee opened up about how the sitcom helped him find acceptance after speaking about his treatment as an overweight actor.

The My Name is Earl star played the sensitive lackey of Harley Keiner in Seasons 2 through 4 of BMW. While he didn’t originally plan on becoming an actor, he spilled to the hosts of the Pod Meets World podcast that he caught the acting bug while visiting his schoolmate Giovanni Ribision on the set of The Wonder Years. While the idea of making money and ditching school appealed to the sitcom vet, Suplee mentioned both child stars being seen as their characters, not themselves, appealed to him. Suplee mentioned that his actor friends were being seen as characters, not as themselves, and that appealed to him.

The thing I noticed mostly that was appealing to me with these guys was that people didn’t actually see them. People saw characters… They just saw who they saw on TV. Nobody knew anything about them other than that. It seemed like this wonderful defense against people actually looking at you and seeing you and observing you. It was appealing to me in that way that you could hide.

Hiding away was part of a bigger reason for Suplee turning to the acting profession. The TV veteran spilled about his weight insecurities playing into his decision. The Ranch alum said on the podcast.

The other thing that was kind of fascinating and nice for me as I was always plagued with this feeling of discomfort with myself and feeling that I was bad and alone because of my weight. And the characters I played were meant to be overweight. So, for those moments, it suddenly became okay to be overweight. There was no wrongness in that in embodying that character. There were a few things like that were appealing, and then, it was like ‘I don’t have to go to school, and I can make money.’ It was the coolest job ever. It was kind of a mix of all that.

Ethan Suplee wanted viewers to see him as his character, not his actual self. Of course, having millions of eyeballs on you weekly sounds like the worst idea for someone looking to hide away. However, playing an overweight character on TV allowed viewers to love Suplee as the sensitive Frankie.

His childhood insecurities plagued him even after he became a successful actor. The 46-year-old actor admitted he had a distorted image of himself that continued during his time at BMW. Suplee felt being overweight was a deformity leading to him question whether audiences were looking at him because of his weight or his role on the show. He would find some relief when he realized others were recognizing him due to his TV work, not his weight.

Suplee went on to tell a story about a trip he took with his dad, and how he was really afraid when a few boys walked up to him. He explained that he thought they were going to embarrass him in front of his father, who he wanted to make proud. However, instead, they wanted to let him know they were fans.

I remember having this feeling of fear that these kids are going to say something and make me feel like crap in front of my dad whom I’d just taken on this trip. And they pulled the rug from out under me, and they came up to me to talk about Boy Meets World. It was truly the first time I felt my father was really proud of me. It was really profoundly meaningful, you know. It was a massive big deal because all [these feelings] I carried inside about myself evaporated in that moment. It was really awesome. It was a big deal. The show touched a lot of people.

Being on Boy Meets World allowed Suplee to let go of the shame and self-loathing he had harbored for years (at least, for a moment). Facing early childhood pressure to lose weight seemed to strain his father-son relationship but witnessing the younger Suplee’s TV fame appeared to draw them together. It allowed the American History X actor to come to terms with his weight.

Since his Boy Meets World days, Ethan Suplee has gained attention for his weight loss transformation in recent years. His social media presence is filled with gym selfies and amazing exercise videos. Focusing on fitness doesn’t mean his acting career was on pause though, as he starred in notable 2022 releases, including Dog and the ill-fated Babylon.

You can hop on iHearRadio to listen to more Boy Meets World stories like Ethan Suplee or other BMW cast members on Pod Meets World hosted by Danielle Fishel, Rider Strong, and Will Friedle. In the meantime, get a Disney+ subscription to see Frankie Stechino’s transformation from a bully to the resident poet on Boy Meets World.   

Adreon Patterson
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A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).