In 1998, the sitcom “The King of Queens” first aired on CBS and introduced the world to its main character, Doug Heffernan; a lovable UPS driver living in Queens, New York with his feisty wife and eccentric father-in-law. The show became a huge success, lasting for 9 seasons, and launched Christian-actor Kevin James to fame. Since then, his career expanded into movies such as Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Hitch, and Here Comes the Boom.
However, James started his career not as an actor, but as a stand-up comic. He made his debut at the East Side Comedy Club in Long Island, New York where his clean-comedy routines awarded him with national acclaim. He was asked to perform on many talk shows including The Tonight Show, The Late Show, and Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. Impressively, in 2004, when Comedy Central compiled a list of the 100 Greatest Standups of All Time, James ranked #89.
It wasn’t long after moving to Los Angeles that he landed a guest spot on the hit sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond alongside his good friend Ray Romano. Only two short years later, he was cast as the lead in his own sitcom, The King of Queens. It was this show that suddenly made Kevin James a household name. The King of Queens was nominated for two People’s Choice Awards, and James was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for his role.
After conquering the small screen, James moved his career to the big screen. In 2012 he both starred in and produced the film Here Comes the Boom, which told the story of a high school teacher who becomes a mixed-martial arts fighter in order to raise money for the school’s under-funded music program. While watching the film, people noticed that scenes of prayer were added throughout the film. When asked by CBN who was responsible for adding those scenes, James responded, “I wanted that. It’s a balancing act because I also don’t want it to be knocking people over the head with it. You don’t want to be preaching at people in film, but it is a part of it. It’s a part of my life. And it’s also a big part of the life that I noticed in a lot of fighters, these guys that go into the octagon and do that. It’s there. A lot of films choose to ignore it, and I just felt it fit right here. Again, I didn’t want to be overbearing with it, but I certainly wanted to get the message across that faith has something to do with this.”
Another film that allowed James to represent his faith was Little Boy, a faith-based film about an eight-year-old boy who goes on a quest to try and bring his father home from the battlefield of World War II. He told the Christian Post, “My faith helps me in everything; it shapes me and I always try to glorify Him in movies.”
He further clarified to Patheos, “I cannot separate God from my life. You can’t live like that. There’s no way of separating God from your life. Now, that doesn’t mean I need to play a priest in every movie. That would do more of a disservice. People would think I’m preaching to them and I’d be out of the business. So I just try to take the opportunities God has given me, try to be funny and entertain and put a positive message in the movies I do. We all fall short, and I’m not crazy about every movie I’ve done. But you continue to try to get better as a person and do the best work you can.”
A husband and father of two, James also places a priority on instilling his faith and life lessons in his children. “I’ve been very guilty, a lot, of not knowing my faith too much and just praying when I needed it when something bad happened in my life and not being thankful when things turned good,” he told CNS. “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 Him (God), and so I want to honor Him. It’s honestly about learning more and instilling that in my kids and my friends, and those around me.”
Kevin James has had a long and successful career that continues to flourish. He most recently starred in his own television show, Kevin Can Wait, and voiced the popular cartoon Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. In addition, James is also slated for two future projects. When Catholic News asked him what would happen if his success came to an end, he replied, “There’s always that possibility. 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.”