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  • cogswellmatt77

Big Deal Actor

I am currently at a heavy weight, not my heaviest but certainly not my lightest. I have never been too shy about sharing my weight struggle, but for those of us in the public eye in a number of ways, weight can become a real issue. I'm not ignorant to the fact that my size both landed me "work" and prevented me from succeeding as an actor. Several years ago one of my mentors advised me to lose the weight to be considered for roles and even reminded me that a fellow big actor I worked with in 2003 started landing some major NYC work when he lost the weight. Coincidentally, I would play the role he played back in 2004. It was a role for a big guy, and his size was part of the joke.

In 2006 I was cast as a cop yet again in a role where he was specifically the butt of the joke. There's a whole song about how inept he is. In 2008 I had my first and only lead in a Sondheim musical. I was so overweight and out of shape that I could barely get through the big musical number that was followed by me singing a few bars of a song. That was quite the challenge. In 2011 my height and weight was the butt of a joke in another production. I will also point out, though, that I had some of my best theater roles around this time span, so it wasn't all bad.

In 2013, I was cast as Shrek in Shrek the Musical.


I was quite the big boy, coming off years of a job I despised and very unhealthy ways of coping with the stress of that job. I will admit I was great in this role. It remains my only musical theater lead.

That same year this iconic photo was taken.


All I can see is the weight. I was born for this role and would play it in both a workshop and a full production the following year, but the role was intentionally written for a bigger actor.

For nine months in 2015 to 2016 I went away and lost 75 pounds due to rigorous training and near starvation. It was my lightest weight since college.

By summer 2018, this was me. It is one of my least favorite photos, but I keep it in my files.




I can still remember how uncomfortable I was the next month having this photo taken. I had written a very short play, and this was the first rehearsal for it.

Last May I acted in a film version of one of my plays. The first character seen in the film looks as such:


This is pretty much my shape now. I don't like it. It haunts me. So many of these photos haunt me. Several times in 2021, after my mom's death in particular, I had these big plans to lose the weight and even document the journey. However, when a month would go by and I hadn't lost any weight, I wasn't going to document that! I went back to the gym today after ten days away from my expensive membership. I did cardio for an hour while listening to my music and some weight-lifting, which I hate. I felt good afterwards, and the rest of my eating day was decent.

I see friends of mine losing weight, and it pains me that I have not been successful. Maybe this humiliating post will motivate me to take all this more seriously. Maybe sometime down the road I can post about a significant reshaping. But, until then...



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In December 2018 a very short 'play' of mine, which was more like an SNL skit, premiered in front of a live audience. Before then, it had been twenty years since my words were the context of a perform