The Late Late Show host on how his weight has prevented him from getting film roles, and why that needs to change.
OK, let’s start with the good news.
We’re seeing more women-led films than ever, for instance, such as Captain Marvel and Little Women. And we’re seeing unprecedented Asian representation on-screen. Just this month, The Farewell’s Awkwafina made history as the first Asian Best Actress winner at the Golden Globes.
Hollywood is, at least on the surface, making great strides towards diversity.
But riddle us this – when was the last time you saw a rom-com starring two plus-size people? We’re guessing: probably never.
When it comes to body diversity, the industry remains disappointingly one-size-fits all. According to statistics, two-thirds of Americans are classed as overweight or obese – so why aren’t they being portrayed on-screen?
And those shows that do include one or two plus-size characters, their storylines usually revolve around dissatisfaction with their weight and body image issues, or they become the comical object of fat-shaming jokes. Think: “Fat Amy” in Pitch Perfect.
This is something James Corden has experienced first-hand.
Given his impressive career trajectory and the success of his talk show, it’s hard to imagine Corden struggling for roles. However, The Late Late Show host tells The New Yorker his size prevented him getting substantial roles earlier in his career.
“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,” Corden tells the publication – a problem he believes to indicate how society, and the entertainment industry, treats overweight people generally.
“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,” Corden says. “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.”
In one of James Corden’s first film roles – a college janitor on British soap Hollyoaks – the set designer decorated his room with posters of fast food. A not-so-subtle play on his weight. Corden refused to do the scene until the posters were removed.
“I thought that they were just really being nasty about anyone that’s overweight,” Corden recalls of the incident. “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.”
This isn’t the first time Corden has called out fat-shaming in the industry. Previously, he challenged HBO’s Bill Maher over his comments advocating for bringing back fat-shaming.
In September 2019, Maher controversially told his audience that “fat isn’t a birth defect”. “Nobody comes out of the womb needing to buy two seats on the airplane. Fat-shaming doesn’t need to end. It needs to make a comeback.”
“There’s a common and insulting misconception that fat people are stupid and lazy,” Corden said at the time. “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 tells The New Yorker that for many people, their weight is not always a choice, particularly those who are less privileged.
“I just think it’s out of touch with actual people,” he says. “You cannot forget what most people’s lives are like. You cannot forget how fucking 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 LA”.
Image: Getty, Universal Pictures, BBC.