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Why actor Josh Lucas will never let his son play tackle football

Actor Josh Lucas’ activism in social causes started young. He spent his early childhood traveling with his parents as they organized civil protests across the country. “They believed the government was spending too much on building nuclear weapons instead of on education, nutrition and healthcare,” he said. Inspired by their activism, Lucas has teamed with #FoodIsFuel campaign to end hunger in America.

Lucas’ latest film, “The Most Hated Woman in America,” is a true-crime story based on the life of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who in the 1960s sued over required Bible readings in public schools. After the Supreme Court ruled in her favor, O’Hair became famous and rich — and hated. In the film, which is streaming on Netflix, Melissa Leo plays O’Hair and Lucas plays a felon she foolishly takes under her wing.

As the father of a 4-year old, what food challenges do you face?

Like many kids, Noah has an extraordinary sweet tooth. Recently, we cut out sugar for 30 days. … At the store, I scoured labels for products that were sugar-free. Even mustard contains sugar! … I found substitutions for most things. The longer I went without sugar, the better I felt. And my energy rose … Next up: eating more green vegetables.

What do you do for exercise when you are not preparing for a part?

I love living in New York because it almost demands that I keep walking. When I’m not living here it’s easy to gain weight because I’m not moving as much. I’m not always leading a “thin, movie-star life” [laughs]. … Doing SoulCycle and Bikram yoga on the same day is very healing. I am going to do it more often.

Does Noah play any sports?

I grew up playing soccer and he started playing soccer very young. He’s wildly in love with football. I found a flag-football program for kids his age. But because of concussions, I will never let him play tackle football. I had a severe concussion and I will protect him.

What caused your concussion?

While filming the movie “Stealth,” I was being snapped back and forth in a cockpit and hit my head on the steering wheel. [My part] was to act like I was in a crash so they didn’t realize I wasn’t acting but was nearly knocked out. … I went home that night not feeling well. I went to sleep, which you’re not supposed to do with a concussion. The next morning, I went to work. When they turned the lights on, it felt like someone took an ice pick to my head. Within minutes I couldn’t see or smell. They packed my head in ice and took me for MRIs. It took a long time to recover physically and emotionally.

Did you undergo any treatments?

[A friend] suggested I do a therapy from the 1960s, called “EMDR” [Eye Movement Desensitization and Recovery]. It’s similar to the REM sleep cycle, where your eyes move back and forth. [Proponents believe] that … during REM sleep your body is going through a healing or detoxification process. … I was able to finish filming “Stealth,” but then I took some time off.

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rene.lynch@latimes.com

@renelynch

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