Fab At 50By Posted: Jan 15, 2009
That's right! Christian J. LeBlanc (Michael) recently turned 50 and he isn't hiding it. In fact, as you can tell by this beefcake shot of the actor, he's downright proud of being on this earth for half a century and in good health. We chatted with LeBlanc about being nifty at 50.Soap Opera Digest: Why be honest about your age?
Christian J. LeBlanc: You can't hide it these days. If there wasn't Google, maybe I would feel differently [laughs]. I should say I'm 60 so that people would think I look fabulous for my age. I'm not beyond a compliment. I'm a big genealogist and I have had women in my family who shaved 10,12, 15 years off their age and got away with it. All the way back to the Civil War I can find records where they lied to the censor takers. I inherited that legacy but I broke that vicious cycle [laughs].
Digest: You seem really at peace with growing older.
LeBlanc: Listen, I'm not fighting the battle of 20 or 30 year old actors anymore. I don't want the roles they would get. There's a certain ageism about working in any aspect of this industry but me feeding into that won't make it better. I want to be the age I am. I want to be hired because "My God, he's too good to pass by." Everything else is going to disappear eventually no matter how hard you hold onto it.
Digest: That's an interesting perspective, given you're in a business that is obsessed with youth.
LeBlanc: I studied under Julie Harris, Charles Nelson Reilly and Eileen Brennan and it was fascinating to me that they went through their careers without lying about their ages. They wore their war wounds very proudly. I have a fairly healthy ego and I want growing old to be graceful and dignified. The only thing that can last is your talent and it really behooves you to get better as you go. The focus shouldn't be on the age but on your skill. We're not going to be 20 or even 50 forever. I worked really hard in the time that I put into this career.
Digest: Were you at all depressed about turning 50?
LeBlanc: I can honestly say I wasn't. I think that whole ghost of mortality hit earlier for me because I lost people close to me in my 30s.
Digest: You were always in good shape but what inspired you to get into this kind of shape?
LeBlanc: I always like to do something for my birthdays, more than I do for New Years. So I said, "Why not?"
Digest: So this wasn't about "I'm going to show the world that I can be sexy at 50!"?
LeBlanc: I don't want to be the poster boy for my age group. I promised myself I would get into shape and I did it. It's no more or less than that. I've felt good about myself before this so this certainly is not the goal I'm most proud of. I'm happy with myself. I just happened to wake up and said, "I've been dancing around it all these years, let's just do it."
Digest: Did you get a personal trainer?
LeBlanc: Yeah, my trainer, Lou Berrotta has also been my friend for years. He was Mr. Natural Universe, competed with Schwarzenegger and has always been about health and fitness.
Digest: Obviously, he knows what he's doing because he certainly whipped you into great shape.
LeBlanc: He really knows the physiology and chemistry of people's bodies so well. He will show you what your genes dictate what kind of body you can have. It's not about what the other person has. He promises to give you your best body, not anyone else's best body. He has an amazing eye and he treats his clients like a piece of art. I don't respond to yelling because, I have to admit, I have authority problems but this is someone you want to work for because he's so passionate about what he does. Without his dedication, I would have never gotten there.
Digest: Are you looking forward to your 50s?
LeBlanc: Yeah. it's been pretty wonderful so far. I'm looking forward to the next challenge and there's a lot still out there.
Digest: Have your co-stars seen these photos?
LeBlanc: Oh, yeah.
Digest: What kind of reaction did you get?
LeBlanc: It's been very flattering actually. The guys especially know what it takes. I don't know anybody on this show that doesn't do some sort of physical fitness. I'm just trying to stay away from the day when they make me take my shirt off and the audience goes, "Oh, he's so brave. He doesn't really care." I don't want to have to be brave to take my shirt off.
Digest: But Michael doesn't get a lot of bare-chested scenes.
LeBlanc: He doesn't have to tear his shirt off and I like that Michael is more about the brains. He's a kind of a nerd. He would be the one on the treadmill with a cigarette and a scotch.
Digest: So are you going to keep this physique up?
LeBlanc: I'd like to stay there but it's harder as you get older. Once you're there it's easier to sustain than it is to get there. It's not as much work. I know what to do now. I'm going to go to New Orleans soon and eat myself into a coma but I'll pay for it later on. I'll tighten up on my regimen.
Digest: Do you think this will help your career?
LeBlanc: It certainly helps my stamina for those long hours on the set. I will at some point, if I haven't already, turn that corner and be a character actor who will hopefully work into my 80s. I'll be grateful if I can work as an coot. I will certainly embrace my coothood.