The damage done by the Hollywood stereotype

Robert Capron was not thinking of himself as a “fat kid” the day Roger Ebert described the eleven-year-old as “short”. Instead, rising so high during the national press tour for his first major supporting role — Rowley Jefferson in 2010’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” — the young actor felt like a star on the rise. It wasn’t until Capron settled into his hotel room in Washington, D.C. to eagerly scroll through Rotten Tomatoes that his confidence began to dip. Combined with disappointment from every negative review was the unexpected confusion of body type recognition – a sense of nausea heightened by the red warning lights of the Washington Monument that can be seen through the window.

“Every critic specifies that I am fat: ‘chubby’, ‘overweight’, ‘moon face’ – ‘angelic’, if we become a little artful,” said Capron. “I’m on record the comments are weird. But I’m going to use hot air balloons. I’m traveling across America. I’m in a movie my entire sixth grade class goes on a field trip to watch. There’s so much good. I almost can’t think of it.”

These traits no longer apply to Capron. Last seen in the 2018 arc of the TV show “Elementary,” the 23-year-old maintains a tight and wire frame, with veins taut from bench curls and a scruffy face for strict definition. The main impression Kaprun makes these days is strong, well-fed – an air of power that he still struggles to absorb. Every so often, he’ll look down his phone and find Instagram messages from Rowley’s old fans: “I liked you more when you were fat.”

Raised in Rhode Island by self-protective parents who know “the bullshit jack of Hollywood,” Capron has come to his aspirations as an independent leading man, inspired by after-school theater lessons and Jimmy Stewart shows. Early coups—”cute kid” performances in films like “Bride Wars” and “The Wizard’s Apprentice”—were similarly organic. Presumably, what caught the attention of the directors was the presence of a young, pretty-faced Capron. His steadily increasing weight played only a small role in his development. “[My weight problems] It seemed like a family conversation. I didn’t connect it to external perception and can’t remember anyone at all Connection “I’m fat,” Kaprun said, waving away from assumptions about bullying. “I like , excessive kind child.”

Capron’s peerless confidence would have led him past all the other child actors who had responded to Rowley Jefferson’s casting call. As the cheerful and angry best friend of Greg, the titular weak kid, Rowley stems from an innate self-acceptance – a stark contrast to Greg’s faltering efforts to become the coolest kid in middle school. And while Capron was clearly born for the part, there’s a disturbing quality to the character concept. While Rowley’s social ignorance enables the series’ ‘be yourself’ ethic, it also allows the filmmakers to direct shredded insults to the character – “Chunk E. Cheese” and “Baby Hippo” – for a smiling Capron to blink away. Rowley’s word is “thick,” according to the publicly available text. “His head, neck, torso, and legs are sitting on top of each other like a pile of cubes.” In the leather-shirted gladiator game, while another character laments the cruelty of forcing all non-athletic students to be skins, Rowley flaps to the side, playfully fiddling with his chubby folds.Whether he throws his weight to the floor to stop Greg’s teenage brother, or descends from a chair as he dances animatedly along to Ke$ha’s TiK ToK song, Capron rarely thought about the photo he was He shows it. “You have relationships with all of these people independent of what appears on screen,” he said. “I trusted people. I said yes to things. I have no reason not to do that. It felt like life was handed to me on a silver platter.”

But, when the “Wimpy Kid” franchise began to gain him supporting roles based on his weight, Capron’s consciousness outweighed his unconscious fantasy ego. Even the voice acting in “Frankenweenie” couldn’t release Capron from his chubby comedic satisfaction. Nor was his long-awaited opportunity in the leadership role. The role was to adapt Robert Lipsite’s “One Fat Summer,” a coming-of-age novel about a self-hating fat kid who gets motivated to lose weight while working for an older man. Capron was invited to Los Angeles for a screen test, and was instructed to remove his shirt, eat a sandwich, and face the camera. Telling some of the creative team afterwards that it’s “lock”, all Kaprun hears is “You fat? You’re on perfect.“After the biggest opportunity of his career in development collapsed, he was silently grateful.

However, Capron’s final insult came earlier, and the culprit was Rowley Jefferson himself. At the 2012 screening of the third movie “Wimpy Kid,” hosted by the Foundation for NBA player Carmelo Anthony, the fourteen-year-old actor was introduced to the back of the cinema, hoping to stay out of sight. When the giant screen was filled with pictures of the shirtless Rowley by the pool, Capron began to notice rows of laughing children turning around to stare at him. At first, the actor was confused. “There was nothing funny,” he said. And then hit him. Capron remembers thinking “Oh my God—they’re laughing because my men’s boobs are shaking.” “In that moment, it became a reality of my life that being obese is such a bad thing.” After two years, he says, “just stopped eating.”

Capron, who was still a developing teenager, began limiting his consumption to five hundred calories a day, drawing energy from dreams of losing enough weight to play Spider-Man. It only took a few months of counting each Cheerio to drop Capron from one hundred and ninety pounds to one hundred and ten, and then his management started offering him for higher portions. When he was caught throwing away his father’s ham and cheese sandwich, Capron began the recovery process that eventually saw him spend what seemed like his late teenage years in the offices of a dietitian more than ever. Designation.

“I really thought I would be the male hero with “My best friend is fat,” said Capron. “But, once I was skinny, Hollywood couldn’t quite hook me up.” Even worse, shows of the old fat kid continued to appear – Kaprun’s lack of work gave directors the misleading impression that he was “still fat.” Capron cannot say for sure whether persistence will lead to a breakthrough. When every day is spent hiding an eating disorder from a scientist who refuses to forget that you’re fat, there may be no energy left to find a new, self-confident place. “I couldn’t stop feeling scrutinized. It killed my confidence.” I entered acting without a hitch at all. In the end, I was feeling insecure about things I shouldn’t have been insecure about.”

Kaprun’s inability to take on roles that did not impose a cynical identity on him with his body at an affected age had dire consequences. Join an unhappy breed of weight-derived characterizations dating back to Chubby in “Our Gang,” through Mike Engelberg in “The Bad News Bears,” and Chunk in “The Goonies.” I spoke with Aaron Schwartz, one of the few former chubby Hollywood kids who spearheaded his own movie, “Heavyweight” from 1995, in which he plays a kid sent to lose weight in a ridiculously ineffective fat camp. In this surprisingly idyllic environment, he has found his place – a “fat kid” among a diverse group of overweight young adults, including self-confident crooks and sensitive lovers alike. When the judicial community imposes itself, arriving in the form of a new fitness crew nuts led by a former self-hating chubby kid played by Ben Stiller, it’s race that ultimately looks ridiculous.


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