Jesse Metcalfe landed his big break when he was cast as teenage gardener John Rowland in “Desperate Housewives”, which proved to be his breakthrough role.

In a new interview with Vice’s i-D Magazine, Metcalfe gets candid about the “pressure” of playing a TV sex symbol who was regularly seen onscreen without a shirt.

“Being a sex symbol is very much about the roles that you play and my roles put me up on a pedestal,” he said.

READ MORE: Jesse Metcalfe Talks Putting His Best Foot Forward In ‘Dancing With The Stars’

“But my appearance was also criticized and picked apart by a lot of people in the media. Having your shirt off in every episode of ‘Housewives’ brought a lot of pressure,” he added.

“You have to stay in the best shape you can and then between projects, everyone expects you to stay in that shape 24/7, 365. That’s not realistic. That’s why paparazzi catch actors between projects looking ‘out of shape’ — they’re taking time off and that includes the gym,” Metcalfe explained.

“You can run your body into the ground working out, not to mention the other things male actors do to stay fit,” he continued.

READ MORE: Jesse Metcalfe Confessed He Is ‘Honoured’ To Work with ’Super Professional’ Bruce Willis: ‘He’s the Man’

Being labeled a sex symbol can also lead to typecasting. “The industry tends to think if you look a certain way that’s all you have to offer,” he said. “The best thing I could’ve done at that time was be patient, which I was not. I did a string of indie films that didn’t work and should’ve kept my nose clean, so to speak. Between jobs, I just didn’t know what to do with myself.”

However, he now looks back on those years following the end of “Desperate Housewives” as laying the groundwork for his future career.  “It definitely built character. I had to really look within and figure out who I really was because that’s the foundation,” Metcalfe said.

“I’ve done a lot of soul-searching and a lot of therapy,” he added. “I’ve come out stronger and better having been through what I’ve been through in my career. I wouldn’t go back and change anything. The pain you experience is nine times out of 10 a lesson you need to learn. That pain doesn’t go away until you’ve learnt it.”

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