Amidst Hollywood movies and his role on The Late, Late Show, James Corden’s kids remain the sole focus for the actor and comedian. In this interview with Baby magazine, he opens up about his fatherhood journey so far
James Corden’s ascent to transatlantic-entertainment-icon status has been nothing short of astounding. He’s an actor who had worked his way through a variety of terrestrial sitcoms, dramas and panel shows in this country.
From early small-screen parts in Boyz Unlimited, Fat Friends and Teachers, to starring in Gavin & Stacey and A League of Their Own, and film roles in Gulliver’s Travels and One Chance to West End leads in The History Boys and One Man, Two Guvnors, Corden has always excelled.
Despite all that, there were audible gasps in 2015 when the then-36-year-old succeeded Craig Ferguson as the host of CBS chat staple The Late Late Show.
Opportunities to ‘crack America’ don’t come much bigger, but for the Hillingdon-born operator, the chance to slide into the US market with a sincere, uplifting, confident but ultimately gentle interviewing technique came at a cost – time away from his loved ones.
At that point, James Corden’s kids were Max, born March 2011, and Carey, born October 2014, with wife Julia. The lure of arguably the biggest career step possible was directly at odds with a yearning to settle down as family man, devoted husband, father and role model.
“There was uncertainty at first as to how it would work, how long I’d be there for, where the kids would live – all that sort of stuff,” he says.
“In the end, the prospect of doing something long distance was just an idea too far removed to even consider, so uprooting everyone to the States and living out the experience in full was by far the way to go, and I can safely say it’s not a decision we have regretted.
“It’s a life far, far away from London in almost every respect, but it’s beautiful and, more than anything else, it means I’m with the kids all the time, and being a strong family in one place is such a relief.”
Daughter Charlotte became a further addition to the clan when she arrived in December 2017, and while chat-show work dominates his schedule, James Corden’s kids awarded him some serious ‘cool dad’ points with regards to his work projects, particularly when it comes to film choices.
“Full-length projects aren’t really possible given my workload, but doing voiceovers for animated movies is quicker and a lot of fun. When I did Peter Rabbit in 2018, I’ll admit it was with more than one eye on the kids.
“It’s funny though, you do these films expecting some kind of gushing recognition, adulation and love from your kids, then they look at you as if they genuinely couldn’t care less,” he laughs.
“Take Max, for example. He’s clued in, he knows, he’s totally aware, but he just doesn’t care. He’s like, ‘yeah that’s cool’, and that’s all I get. I can see in his head, he’s thinking, ‘don’t all dads voice characters in animated movies?’ That’s what the kids think.
“At the same time though, that’s the great thing about having family. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do out there. When you’re at home, behind closed doors, you’re no one special. And that’s fine. Even when they’re 16 and 13 and 10, who cares. I’m just dad – I do the dishes and make funny faces, that’s all I’m good for,” he laughs.
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The presenter admits that with every new addition to the clan, his happiness increases to previously untapped levels. “You just don’t think it can get any better, and it does. You can’t picture who your next child is, yet they come along and it’s like they’ve been there forever.”
For a period leading up to the birth of son Max, it appeared Corden may have had more time for the party scene than parenthood. By his own admission, he found the lure of late nights difficult to say no to.
“It was good fun but I’m over the moon that those days are behind me,” he admits. “We partied hard and had a really fantastic time, but it’s out of my system now.
“Fatherhood, in one sense, is a massive transformation in your life. But in another, it doesn’t feel that different. You’re the same person, but there’s a completeness to it all. The truth is I’ve loved every single minute of being a dad. It’s hard, of course, but all I have to do is look at my kids’ faces and it’s worthwhile. I feel incredibly blessed.”
Of course, being James Corden, it wouldn’t be right if he didn’t embellish his cherished memories of the early days with a few anecdotes: “I was actually writing my autobiography during Max’s birth… I mean, not at the exact moment, that would’ve been weird. But certainly around the time he was born. A few times I got completely distracted writing it when I had arranged to be at the hospital.
“Once Max came home from hospital I wanted all the responsibility from minute one. I don’t think you’re a hands-on dad until you’ve had your child’s poo under your fingernails. It’s at that point you can say you’re a proper father! Oh, and those times when you’d pop out for a drink and a mate would point out the sick on your shoulder.”
James Corden’s kids are also influenced by the experiences and advice given by the actor and comedian’s father. “My dad’s advice to me was to always chase the dream, not the money. When I was 19 I turned down Hollyoaks and it would have been a big deal at the time, but my dad knew it was something I hadn’t dreamt of. He told me to go for the dream instead of taking the money, and that’s definitely a moral I’ll pass on to my kids.
“Who knows, if I hadn’t followed his advice, I might have been the next Ken Barlow!”
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