In a new interview with the New Yorker, the late-night host and actor reflected on his decision to stand up for himself last September after US TV host Bill Maher said that fat-shaming “needs to make a comeback.”
“Some amount of shame is good,” Maher joked in a segment on his show, Real Time. “We shame people out of smoking and into wearing seatbelts.
“We shame them out of littering and most of them out of racism. Shame is the first step in reform. It’s what goads people into saying, ‘Maybe I can do better.’
Days later, Corden delivered a passionate response.
"I’ve struggled my entire life trying to manage my weight, and I suck at it," Corden shared during The Late Late Show. "We’re not all as lucky as Bill Maher, you know? We don’t all have a sense of superiority that burns 35,000 calories a day.
“If making fun of fat people made them lose weight, there’d be no fat kids in schools,” he added.
The incident still stings, Corden told the New Yorker.
“I just think it’s out of touch with actual people,” he said of Maher’s attitude. “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.”
While Corden says he’s not precious about his weight, he’s long been quick to call out body-shaming. As a young actor, he was cast as a janitor on the British soap Hollyoaks, and was dismayed to find that his character’s room was outfitted with posters of junk food. He demanded that the posters be taken down.
“I thought that they were just really being nasty about anyone that’s overweight,” Corden said. “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.’”
Later, before co-creating the hugely popular British sitcom Gavin & Stacey with Ruth Jones, he felt his promise as an actor was diminished by his size.
“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 recalled.
“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. 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.”
Maher has not yet publicly responded to Corden’s comments.