Interviews

Jason Lewis on Getting Fit Outdoors and Keeping It Fun

Your girlfriend will remember him from 'Sex and the City,' but you’ll come to know Lewis as the ripped dude on NBC’s new horror show 'Midnight, Texas'.

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Jason Lewis on Getting Fit Outdoors and Keeping It Fun
Lindsey Byrnes

Jason Lewis’ early adult life definitely did not suck. As one of the hottest male models of the ’90s, Lewis spent his days jet-setting around Europe, strutting down the runway for luxury brands like Hugo Boss, and hanging with noted fashion photographers like Richard Avedon. He even partially inspired Owen Wilson’s spacey stoner character, Hansel, in Zoolander. Then in 2003, Lewis scored a major role on HBO’s megahit Sex and the City, portraying top model Smith Jerrod. Such head-spinning success could have set up lesser men for a great fall.

But Lewis was never one to take his status as hunk of the moment too seriously, and his grounding in physical pursuits has allowed him to maintain a level of humbleness not often found in dudes who dated Rosario Dawson and Teri Hatcher. A California surfer dude who eats clean, meditates, and lives life as close as he can to a Zen existence, the 6'2", 190-lb Lewis keeps a ripped and lean physique without having to spend hours in the gym, even at 46.

His new role as fallen angel Joe Strong on NBC’s Midnight, Texas—a horror-drama based on the trilogy written by True Blood author Charlaine Harris—is one that’s leaving him fulfilled and eager to put to rest all the Sex and the City adulation. “Sex and the City is definitely one of my top acting experiences and an amazing time in my life, but I’m really in love with this [current] project,” says Lewis. “It’s one of those shows that combines what fairy tales are supposed to be about—great morals and social allegory—but also really entertaining.”

His character is a centuries-old angel who lives in the small, dusty town of Midnight, a sanctuary for supernatural creatures who have retreated from society and found solace in the diverse community. “One of the promotional slogans for the show is ‘Where others fit in,’ and I think that’s a pretty good descriptor,” says Lewis. “Anybody’s welcome as long as they don’t come in and upset the established solidarity and peace. And Joe is a guy who can give a little bit of company to a stranger and defend others, even though they struggle with the hard choices.”

It was the unblinking stare of the camera that kept Lewis working hard to refine his body. “It’s a great motivator knowing you’re going to have to take your shirt off in front of a television camera, but I generally stay pretty fit,” he says. “The challenge in shooting is the incredibly long hours. There were times when I pulled an 18-hour day and still had to fit in a workout.”

Lewis’ outlook on exercise remains rooted in the outdoors and getting strong by having fun and being active with something you enjoy. “My philosophy is: Play yourself fit,” says Lewis, who enjoys surfing, mountain biking, snowboarding, kite surfing, yoga, and stand-up paddleboarding.

“Being engaged in a lot of different activities that draw your interest can be much more psychologically uplifting and rewarding. Not just, you know, go to the gym, but go ride your bike one day of the week to work. Go play a volleyball game or something and have these different points of interest. Because anything done over and over and over again can become dull and boring and tedious.”

Below, one week in the active life of actor Jason Lewis:

Monday

  • Morning: Two-hour hike
  • Afternoon: Slacklining (aka slack rope walking)

Tuesday

  • Yoga

Wednesday

  • Early morning: Surfing
  • Late afternoon: Indoor rock climbing

Thursday

  • Surfing

Friday

  • Outdoor rock climbing + two hours of hiking to and from the climb spot

Saturday

  • Beach volleyball all day

Sunday

  • Chill the hell out

Midnight, Texas airs Mondays at 10 p.m. EST on NBC.

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