Speaking of The Wonder Years, you were credited as Jack Corbett according to IMDb. Is that true?
It’s true. When I signed up for the Screen Actors Guild, there was already an actor named John Corbett. But actually, on my first SAG card, my name was Nate Corbett because my grandpa’s name was Nate and I couldn’t use John. I tried out Nate for a while and still have some old headshots with Nate Corbett on it, but no one ever called me Nate. My dad was also John, but his whole family called him Jack, so I tried out Jack. I didn’t want to be John J. Corbett because I didn’t like the sound of that. So I tried out Jack Corbett. It didn’t really fit even though I’m credited as Jack Corbett on The Wonder Years. When I got Northern Exposure two years later, they asked me what name I wanted to use on my credit. I just said John Corbett, and that was it! Nobody ever contested it. I wonder what happened to the other John Corbett, but I beat him to the punch. I think the time limit has run out on it.
I also read you have a big birthday coming up next month, right?
I can’t believe it. Yes, time goes by quick. I will be the number 60 next month.
Well, congrats! So what’s a great birthday for John Corbett?
I love pizza, like a margherita pizza or maybe even a pepperoni pizza, with a couple beers. I like an ice-cream fudge cake after, and that’s it. [Laughs.] My birthday falls on a Sunday this year, and I’ll have the day off from work, so I think those delicious things are in store. The last time I had a birthday part was when I was turning 13, and I just didn’t like it. I’m an only child and kind of a loner by heart, and I still only have about three super-close friends. So even if I had a birthday party, I wouldn’t know most of the people there. [Laughs.] I’ll hang out with Bo, and she makes a fantastic pizza. Then she’ll give me a birthday kiss, and that’s going to be as exciting as that would be.
Speaking of, you guys have been together now for almost 20 years. If you could go back and tell yourself anything right before you met her, what would it be?
Try not to say the F-bomb so much. Oh my God! It’s just such a part of my vocabulary, and I’m really working hard not to use it in this interview. I even forget and use it around small children, and Bo gives me the look and goes, “Hey!” And I’ll say, “What?!” [Laughs.] So yeah, it probably would be to have better grammar and to read more because we play Jeopardy! every night. I have over 30 Jeopardy! episodes saved on our DVR, and quite a few of them are still Alex Trebek’s final Jeopardys. I’ve made my DVR keep them. We watch it every night if I’m not working. If there’s 20 questions, I get like two right, and Bo gets all the rest. I wish I read more and was smarter. She knows everything about everything.
What would she say is the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for her?
Probably make her dinner since she usually makes dinner. I’m a pretty good cook, but I get lazy. On her birthday I get her gifts, but I’m not the flowery guy with a dozen roses. I should do that more. For Valentine’s Day, we’ve been together so long that sometimes we think it’s a cheesy holiday. You can’t even get into a restaurant because they are so packed, so we’re not Valentine-y kind of people. It’s not that romantic, but it’s doing something nice like surprising her by making dinner.