It’s no surprise that the media paid close attention to the Gwyneth Paltrow trial, given she sits atop the A list. What no one could have seen coming, though, is the emergence of a new celebrity from the proceedings — attorney James Egan, a Utah native with a striking resemblance to Clark Kent.

The fervor seems to have started when pop culture commentator Evan Ross Katz shared a photo of Egan with his 296,000 Instagram followers, and wrote, “Gwyneth’s attorney James Egan? I think we should have that conversation.” Katie Couric posted a reply, “He’s cute.”

From there, the internet exploded with adoration for Egan, his glasses, his braces, and his music, which he produces in his spare time. His Spotify monthly listener count has jumped from 10 or 11 plays per song to thousands in the past couple of weeks.

I felt an undeserved sense of pride watching this all unfold. It’s not every day that the internet writ large develops a crush on one of my people. And he truly feels like one of my people, mostly because for a week straight I’ve received messages from nearly everyone I know with links to tweets and stories about Egan and the question, “You know him, right?”

It’s a fair assumption to make about two people living in Small Lake City, but I was disappointed that no, I did not know Egan or his wife, Taylor Olson (who is herself a musician), and I was eager to change that. So I was grateful when they were willing to take my call while their 1-year-old son, Cal, babbled in the background.

James Egan and Taylor Olson sit outside a Park City courtroom, scanning memes. | Courtesy of James Egan

Egan and his wife seem flummoxed by the sudden attention. “It’s just very surreal,” Egan tells me. “Totally unexpected.” He says he feels awkward being the object of adoration, and Olson explains it’s probably because her husband has never been an attention-seeking person. “If there’s anybody I ever thought would be in Glamour or TMZ, James would have been the last person I would have guessed.”

But Olson is delighted the world has joined her in her love for Egan. “I think James is awesome. So it’s kind of fun to see people recognize how great he is,” she says. “It was really fun to see people discover James, and see how people started to fall in love with him.”

Egan, who is 37, says he’s surprised by the narratives the media have, and have not, latched onto. Most stories have focused on the quote he gave Billy Bush as he exited the courthouse. “You know they’re calling you Clark Kent out here? That’s gotta be weird,” Bush asked Egan, to which Egan responded, “It’s weird.” So the Vanity Fair headline on the story about Egan read, “‘It’s Weird’: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Handsome Attorney James Egan on Comic Book Hero Comparisons.”

Egan is surprised by how far into his discography some writers seem to have dived, highlighting music he produced in college. “It’s nice that there are more people listening,” he says. “Hopefully, you know, a handful of them actually find the music meaningful.” He says that had he known there would be so many new listeners, he would have had new music ready. And he would have timed the orthodontia differently.

He says he’s also puzzled no one has mentioned his work with the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center where he spent 18 months helping overturn wrongful convictions. “It’s just an easy storyline,” he says, explaining it’s the most Superman-esque work he’s done in his legal career.

As for his current job, Egan says he doesn’t identify as a lawyer, making the attention especially surreal. “I’m a songwriter that wishes he was a novelist,” he tells me. “I don’t mind. Being a lawyer. It’s not like I’m miserable,” he says. “But I don’t love getting up in court and having to kind of perform and be quick-witted on the stand. I’m kind of more of a writerly, perfectionist personality that wants to just get everything perfect on the page.”

Egan apologizes more than once for being verbose, a hilarious apology to make to a reporter looking for quotes. “James is a chatty guy,” Olson explains. “We joke that he inherited from his mom the-last-one-at-the-party syndrome, that he always has to be the last person there, talking to everybody and making sure he’s connected with everybody.”

After our conversation, Egan sends me a text that reads, “My apologies again for running over your questions with my nervous chatter,” which makes me laugh.

That self-deprecating nervousness seems to be Egan’s MO. He tells me he doesn’t have a lot of trial experience and he still gets anxious before litigating. He was especially anxious before this most recent case, which he knew would be very public. “It’s definitely weird that the response has been mostly positive,” he says, adding that a few meaner internet users have described him as looking like a deer in headlights.

But Olson doesn’t think it’s weird. “I think that people noticed his capabilities,” she says. “He was well-spoken, and had nicely formulated, coherent arguments.”

As for what comes next in his fame trajectory, Egan doesn’t really know. “I definitely felt some pressure, like I’m supposed to do something now, like this is a moment I’m supposed to seize it in some way,” he tells me. “But honestly, it’s been so nice to just spend the last few days just with Taylor and my friends and our little Cal.”

“I know it’s cliche, but whatever comes of this short moment of interest in my life, the things that are going to stick around are my son and my friends and my family.”

Gwyneth Paltrow’s attorney James Egan displays a poster showing a brain scan in the courtroom.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s attorney James Egan displays a poster showing a brain scan in the courtroom on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, in Park City, Utah. Paltrow’s attorneys on Wednesday questioned medical experts about the injuries Terry Sanderson claims to have sustained when he and Paltrow collided at Deer Valley Resort seven years ago. | Rick Bowmer, Associated Press