When Rescue Me actor Lenny Clarke hit 380 lbs., his best friend and costar Denis Leary took notice – and action. He encouraged Clarke to get healthy and with Leary’s help (and that of Weight Watchers), Clarke has lost 144 lbs. and counting. PEOPLE sat down with the two comedians for a funny, tough-love take on taking off the pounds.
Clarke: I’ve really learned that no matter how much you work out, if you eat certain foods you’re not going to lose weight.
Leary: Like what? What foods?
Clarke: Chinese food? Bad. Mexican food? Bad. Fried chicken? Bad.
Leary: Now, he’s 54 years old. Half a century on this planet and in the last four years, this has dawned on him?
Clarke: My wife is a fishing captain so we eat all this fish, sushi.
Leary: But when she says sushi, she means a giant tuna comes up out of the ocean, off the boat, and 15 minutes later it’s on their back porch with wasabi.
[How does Leary think his friend looks today?]
Leary: Well, I’m not sleeping with him.
Leary: I can’t judge that! But I think he looks way better than he did.
Clarke: Let’s put it this way: I can buy clothes off the rack. I used to have to buy special clothes so if they lost my luggage, I’d have to find a tailor in town to make me a suit that day.
Leary: A tailor? A tent maker! We reached the point where we would actually have helicopters drop in his outfits.
[This is how Leary provided weight loss encouragement?]
Clarke: (shouts) Oh!
Leary: All the time.
[So why was Leary so concerned about his friend in the first place?]
Leary: Actually, I was afraid at one point that he would mistake me for a piece of food and eat me.
[Come on! A sensitive moment here?]
Leary: Well it was pretty sensitive because I’d always stay a certain number of feet away from him.
Clarke: I’ve actually had sandwiches bigger than his whole body.
Leary: No, I was concerned and, more importantly, he’s funny. There’s not that many funny guys out there so you have to protect them.