Now White is one of those interesting people himself—even though a Calvin Klein campaign was never something he’d imagined doing. “I didn’t see this in my future necessarily,” he said, sheepishly. “Who grows up thinking, Yeah, I’ll be in a Calvin Klein campaign?”
But the unexpected opportunity landed at the exact right time for White. He had built up a rock-solid fitness base after filming The Iron Claw the previous winter—though he’d slimmed back down considerably after putting on major poundage to play wrestler Kerry Von Erich. Ultimately, though, the movie provided more of a psychological than a physical advantage. “I was used to running around in front of large groups of people in my underwear because of [The Iron Claw],” White said. “So maybe there was some mental and emotional prep from that job.”
Even with that preparation, White was his characteristically anxious self before the shoot. “In my head, I was just like, I can’t see myself on a billboard. I shouldn’t be here,” he said. “Just real imposter syndrome.” To prepare, he ran, jumped rope, and did calisthenics. Ate plenty of fish. All the things one does before everyone on the planet sees them in their underwear. The week before the shoot, White got sick—“a chest thing,” he says—and had to cram in a last-minute run and endless pushups the night before.
The resulting photos show no ill effects of that one-week layoff. Michaelangelo couldn’t have carved abs better than the ones popping off White’s torso as he slouches way back on a terracotta sofa or gives the camera his best smize.
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