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Former Child Star Says Body Comments "Killed His Confidence"

Robert Capron starred in Diary of a Wimpy Kid 12 years ago.

Starring in a hit movie is an exciting moment for a young actor, but it's what comes next that may be harder to deal with. Robert Capron, who was in Diary of a Wimpy Kid in 2010, knows this well. The former child performer played "wimpy kid" Greg's (Zachary Gordon) best friend, Rowley Jefferson, and evidently loved the experience. It was only when reviews of the film started coming out that he noticed all the references critics were making to his weight. This led to him being typecast, which hurt his career, his self-confidence, and ultimately, his health.

These days, Capron is still acting, but it hasn't been an easy road, as he explained in a new interview with The New Yorker. Read on to find out what happened to the now-23-year-old after his Diary of a Wimpy Kid experience.

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Capron found out he was being called "fat" in reviews.

Robert Capron and Zachary Gordon in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid"
20th Century Fox

In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Rowley Jefferson is called names—including "baby hippo"—but the character is confident, so he doesn't let the teasing get to him.

As Capron explained to The New Yorker, it never occurred to him that his own weight would be a topic of conversation until he saw this happening in reviews of the film.

"Every critic is specifying that I'm fat: 'chubby,' 'overweight,' 'moon-faced'—'cherubic,' if we're getting a little artsy with it," he explained. "I register that the comments are weird. But I'm going on hot-air balloons. I'm traveling across America. I'm in a movie my entire sixth-grade class goes on a field trip to see. There's so much good. I almost can't think about it."

Capron added that his weight had "seemed like a familial conversation" before this. "I didn't correlate it with outside perception and I can't recall anybody ever calling me fat," he said.

He dealt with typecasting.

Robert Capron at the premiere of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" in 2010
Jeffrey Ufberg/WireImage via Getty Images

After Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Capron continued auditioning for more roles but found that he was being put up for parts where the attitude was "You're fat? You're perfect." One of these parts was going to be a starring role in a movie about a teen who becomes inspired to lose weight. Capron told The New Yorker he felt relieved when the movie didn't make it to production.

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This scrutiny of his body impacted his health.

Robert Capron at the premiere of "Frankenweenie" in 2012
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Capron said that a screening of the third Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, which was released in 2012, was a turning point for him. He realized that the audience was laughing before the jokes during a scene that featured him shirtless at a pool. "Oh, my God—they're laughing because my man-boobs are jiggling," Capron remembered understanding. "At that moment, the truth of my life became that being fat is a very bad thing.

The New Yorker interview explains that two years later, Capron was only eating 500 calories per day and lost 80 pounds in just a few months. He ended up having to work with a nutritionist in an effort to recover from his disordered eating.

He lost his confidence.

Losing weight didn't help further Capron's career. "Hollywood couldn't quite peg me," he explained. Looking back, he sees that he went from a self-assured child who wanted to act to an adult with no confidence in himself.

"I never stopped feeling scrutinized," he said. "It killed my confidence. I entered acting completely uninhibited. By the end, I was feeling insecure about things I shouldn't have been insecure about."

But he's still acting today.

Capron's career didn't take off in the way he hoped, but he is still a working actor today. He was in the 2013 movie The Way Way Back and the 2017 movie The Polka King. From 2014 to 2018, he had a recurring role on the series Elementary.

And he's glad to have had the opportunity to talk about what child stardom was like for him. In a post on his Instagram about the New Yorker article, he wrote in part, "I'm grateful that, for the first time maybe ever, I can express myself in a way that's unabashedly, beautifully full. I don't know if this will resonate with anyone, but if it does, please reach out. I wish I had a voice on this sooner. And I think my two cents on this is a fraction of a much larger conversation that I wouldn't dare pretend to have a complete answer to."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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