James Corden’s acting career was filled with major ups and downs — soap opera bit roles, hit British sitcoms and Broadway shows — but one constant he’s seen is a lack of quality parts for people his size.
Corden now has a massive career as the host of The Late Late Show, but earlier in his acting days, despite starring in the hit play The History Boys, he struggled to get substantial roles while his costars earned major movie parts.
“I was good for playing a bubbly judge in a courtroom, or I’d be the guy who drops off a TV to Hugh Grant in a movie,” he told The New Yorker.
Corden said it’s a problem that stems from how society treats overweight people.
“If someone came from another planet and put on the television, you would think that people who are big or overweight don’t have sex,” he said. “They don’t fall in love. They’re friends of people who fall in love. They’re probably not that bright, but they’re a good time, and they’re not as valuable as people who are really good-looking.”
Corden said that for one of his first jobs, playing a college janitor on the British soap opera Hollyoaks, the set designer decorated his room with posters of fast food. Corden said he wouldn’t do his scene until they were removed.
“I thought that they were just really being nasty about anyone that’s overweight,” he told me. “I remember saying to the guy, ‘I don’t know one person who would take a picture of a hot dog and a burger and stick them on the wall.’ ”
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That history is part of what led Corden to call out Bill Maher after the HBO talk show host advocated for bringing back fat shaming. In September, Corden called out Maher and said that “fat shaming never went anywhere.”
“We are reminded of it all the time,” he said. “There’s a common and insulting misconception that fat people are stupid and lazy. We’re not. We get it, we know. We know that being overweight isn’t good for us. I’ve struggled my entire life trying to manage my weight.”
Corden told The New Yorker that he was worried about his rebuttal, but eventually decided to go through with it. Corden wanted to emphasize that weight is not always a choice.
“I just think it’s out of touch with actual people,” he said. “You cannot forget what most people’s lives are like. You cannot forget how f—ing hard it is. And maybe the only slice of joy in your life is that cheeseburger. And it’s cheap. There are no chubby kids at my son’s school, because it’s a private school on the West Side of L.A.”