Television’s biggest bad boy has grown a softer side — and it’s all thanks to Simon Cowell’s new gig: fatherhood.
The 56-year-old star revealed to People magazine that since he and his girlfriend Lauren Silverman welcomed their son Eric in 2014, he’s unleashed the sweeter part of himself that audiences have seldom seen throughout his reality-TV career.
When Cowell first starred on “America Idol” as a judge alongside Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson in 2002, the London-born producer made a name for himself as a brutal, harsh and seriously rude critic. In fact, his comments were so controversial that TV Guide even dubbed Cowell as the 10th nastiest villain of all time on a list in 2013.
But the arrival of Cowell’s son has made him rethink his wicked and frequently offensive ways.
“There’s no question when you actually have a kid, it does make you feel different because you understand how you would feel it if was your son up there,” the “America’s Got Talent” newcomer said, revealing that he now pictures his own boy onstage before giving his critique.
Cowell, who left “American Idol” in 2010, joined the Season 11 judging panel of the hit NBC series (with Mel B, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel) to give fans a taste of just how sweet he can be. Audiences experienced his gentler side after 13-year-old opera singer Laura Bretan performed a breathtaking performance in the season premiere Tuesday.
“That didn’t just happen,” Cowell said in disbelief of the talent he had just witnessed. “Honest to God, you came out like a jelly, I didn’t think you were going to be able to talk. And then I’m thinking to myself, ‘Oh my God, if she starts to sing, this is not going to work.’ And then that just happened. ... Seriously.”
Although Cowell may have softened up, he still proved how cheeky he can be when he told a group of Spice Girl drag performers that they could sing better than Mel B — the original Scary Spice!
“America’s Got Talent” airs on NBC Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EDT.