Josh Duhamel: “Nothing really meaningful happens without the help of many.”
This past weekend, Parents joined Josh Duhamel as he closed out National Volunteer Week (April 6-12) and kicked off the Advil Relief in Action volunteer campaign. As part of the annual New York Cares Day Spring, Josh helped clean up Franz Sigel Park in the Bronx. The actor, husband of Fergie, and dad of 7-month-old Axl took a break from the dirty work to chat with us about volunteerism and fatherhood.
P: You’ve mentioned that your mom made volunteering a part of your life.
JD: Yeah, and my dad really. For my mom it was more about organized volunteering. Getting out and doing things in the community. But my dad is a really selfless dude, too. He’s always helping somebody do something.
P: What kind of volunteering did they have you doing when you were young?
JD: Everything from parking cars at events for the football team to the local downtown cleanup. It was always kind of a drag for me when I was a kid. I always felt good afterwards, but it wasn’t until recently when I started organizing things [that I became passionate]. I was having a bit of a problem with just putting on a suit and going to charity events and calling it charity. Even though they are raising money for a worthy cause, I didn’t feel like I was really doing anything. I started organizing youth runs throughout Los Angeles where I go recruit people in schools to come out, raise money for Haiti or Japan and then again we did it in Minot where I’m from. Ever since then I’ve just sort of been an advocate of volunteering. I just read something yesterday where it’s the lowest it’s been since 2002, volunteerism, which is a little bit disconcerting.
I really believe that nothing really meaningful happens without the help of many. So we’re here with Advil and the Relief in Action campaign trying to get people to go pledge to volunteer in their communities and share their stories and re-inspire people to get out and volunteer.
P: Obviously Axl’s a bit young, but how do you hope to encourage this spirit of volunteerism as he gets older?
JD: The best way to do that is by showing them by example. Definitely gonna take him [to volunteer], also to keep everything in perspective. There are consequences to not going to school, doing drugs, things like that. Take him to soup kitchens and places like that, not only so that he’s helping, but so that he can see “better keep myself in line.”
P: What other values aside from volunteerism, generosity, do you hope to impart to him?
JD: Hard work is one. Valuing money—things just aren’t handed to you. It’s going to be hard because people want to give [us] stuff and I don’t want him to think that that’s normal. Mom and dad had to work hard for what they got. It’s a tough thing to do in our position, in that town, but we were both raised with very modest houses.
P: When was the first moment that you felt that “I’m a dad” feeling?
JD: Immediately when he was born. There’s this excitement-slash-terror that comes with a newborn baby like “Oh my God I love him! Oh my God I gotta take care of him for the rest of my life!” But it came pretty naturally. I’ve been wanting this for a long time. All my friends have kids. There haven’t been any major shockers, but, you know, I still look at him sometimes and go “Omg, I can’t believe that’s my kid. That’s my kid. We made him.” He’s got a very sweet nature about him, which we love.
P: I know you grew up with three sisters. How do you think will it be to having a little man around the house?
JD: Honestly, I was expecting a girl because I have three sisters, [my wife] has a sister, our dog is a girl. Everything around me is female, so when they said ‘boy’ it took me a minute to actually register. He’ll need me as a male energy in the house.
P: Father’s Day is a little ways off but at Parents we’re already working on our June issue. This will be your first Father’s Day as a dad. Any special plans?
JD: In June he’ll be close to 10 months. Maybe we’ll go to the zoo so he can see all the animals. I do look forward to that.
P: He’s still a baby, but what do you enjoy doing with him on a regular Sunday afternoon?
JD: Right now he’s learning how to roll. He rolls all over the place, that’s how he gets around. But he has this car that was given to him by one of our friends, it’s a little Ferrari—it’s the only Ferrari that he’ll ever own as far as I can control him—but he gets in that thing and he’s all over the place. He becomes very independent and it’s very funny to see him explore in this little car. He loves to go in the pool; he loves to sort of kick his feet and play in the water. I’m gonna teach him how to swim as early as possible because that’s one of my biggest nightmares.
P: Sounds like safety is constantly on your mind.
JD: Unfortunately you have these crazy scenarios that run through your head that I think are there to make sure that you’re keeping him as safe as possible. I see things vividly and I’m like “No no no no no, that’s never gonna happen. We need to put a fence around the pool immediately,” or “We need to put a door here because this is not safe.” You know that he’s gonna get hurt, but it’s just a matter of how hurt.
P: Some actors decorate their kids rooms with paraphernalia from movies or projects that they’ve done. Anything like that in Axl’s room? Maybe some Transformers goodies?
JD: No, he’s got nothing but Safe Haven posters all over his room. [Laughs] Ah no. We’re just about to move into our house. We didn’t make his room too babyish, so it’ll be a room that he’ll grow into. Behind our house is this beautiful little ravine, this valley with all these birds and geckos and there’s a fox down there. We painted a mural of all those animals that are down below. One of the things that I look forward to is taking him down to explore. That’s the kind of stuff I did growing up. It’s all about imagination and nature.
Photograph: Getty Images for Advil / Duhamel is encouraging everyone to join him in taking the #ReliefinAction Pledge on the Advil® Facebook page and commit to volunteering this year.Add a Comment