Kevin James

Comedian: “I don’t want to do anything that doesn’t glorify God in every way”

Robaird O’Cearbhaill
Hong Kong Correspondent

Kevin James, a comic and  TV and movie star, opened up to Catholic Spirit about how important his faith is and the challenge of acting versus using it to project his Catholicism. 

“I am involved in my faith, it becomes more and more — you know, it becomes a difficult, difficult position. You have a platform and you don’t want to do anything that doesn’t glorify God in every way,” James said in the interview. 

He explained that “I can’t play a priest in every film, either. You definitely want to have a positive message. I want to be able to sit and watch my movies with my children,” added James. He is married with four kids. James considered looking after the writing and keeping control of it so as to “be inspiring and move people in a positive way.” And practicing faith is part of that “inspiring” and “positive” way. 

“I was born into a Catholic home and absolutely love my faith and learn more and more about it all the time,” he said. “It’s nice to have that going into whatever you do, whatever part of life you take upon yourself.”

On the other hand he admits he had times when he could have paid more religious attention. “I’ve been very guilty of not showing my faith and just praying when I needed it, when something bad happened in my life and not being thankful when things turned good.” 

James added that “the more I realized how important it is, the more I want to learn about it and do the right thing. All good is from God, and so I want to honor him.” He added, “It’s honestly about learning more and instilling that in my kids and my friends, and those around me.”

To help himself and others improve their Catholic practice, James arranged for a special three day Advent retreat at his house. Invited to be with his family and friends were two well-known US theologians, Fr Chad Ripperger and Scott Hahn. A Facebook comment on Scott Hahn posted about the retreat celebrity guests as “Catholic heavyweights.”

As one of his widely quoted statements said, teachers from school days were instrumental in instilling “principles.” “I had many teachers that were great, positive role models and taught me to be a good person and stand up and be a good man. A lot of the principles they taught me still affect how I act sometimes and it’s 30 years later.”

James began his career as a standup comic before very successfully to TV and films. James realized he became famous  because he was a “clean” comic. 

“It was easier to get on television and it was more universal” than using coarse language, he said. “I saw people who were kind of filthy in the clubs and they were very, very funny (in) what they were doing. But you weren’t going to be able to get on ‘The Tonight Show.’ I was selfish — I didn’t want to have to change my material.”

James was asked by Catholic Spirit what he would do if the work took a turn towards failure. After all if the ratings of TV shows a star is playing in fall, and a run of his or her movies don’t continue to be winners, the entertainment industry can be very cold shouldered, 

“There’s always that possibility,” James replied, “It’s his will, not mine. If it doesn’t happen, I’ve definitely had a great run. I’ll continue to do it, or find my path to something else. He’s given me the platform to do it. It’s great, yeah, I love it.”

(Photo: Kevin James stars in ‘The Crew,’ premiering Feb.15. Screenshot/Youtube/Netflix)