For eight years, he has been reinventing late night television on CBS’ “The Late Late Show.” Johnny Carson never jumped out of a plane with Tom Cruise or sang “Carpool Karaoke” with Bruno Mars, Stevie Wonder, or even Barbra Streisand.
Many in Hollywood stop traffic. With “Crosswalk: The Musical,” James Corden does just that, literally.
Musical Crosswalk: Frozen Ft. Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff on The Late Late Show with James Corden on YouTube
Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz said, “It’s fun when you’re sitting around the table with Kim Kardashian and asking her to rank her sisters’ style choices!
“I think that’s the currency of our show,” Corden said. “I think joy is the currency. We’ve always wanted to create a show that’s fun, that’s exciting, a place where you feel like you can go and have a great time.”
But Corden — at the top of his game — is leaving the show and the country. The 44-year-old is signing off and returning to London. Only four shows left.
“I would be all shocked and surprised,” he said. “It was a part of my life. But my wife and I, we always knew it was an adventure, not a final destination.”
“Is there anything you will miss the most?” asked Mankiewicz.
“More than anything, I’m going to miss the friends I’ve made here on the show,” he replied. “I will miss the feeling of coming into this office every day and knowing that someone is going to make me laugh.”
Before we get to why he’s going, let’s wonder how it all started: almost by accident. “It was unimaginable,” Corden said. “Like, I don’t think I should be hosting a TV show. I’ve never stood on a monologue sign and done a monologue. I’ve never interviewed a guest. Nothing should work on this!”
But it worked, which speaks volumes about Corden’s talent. Virtually unknown in the United States, he was a familiar face in England, on screen and stage. He was mostly a comedy actor. “I would probably just say I’m a performer; maybe that’s who I am. I just love to perform. That’s what I’ve always loved. … I don’t remember a time when I didn’t just love to perform.”
Success in London’s West End brought him to Broadway, where he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for “One Man, Two Governors.”
Official Clip | ‘big bone’ | National Theater at Home: National Theatre’s One Man, Two Governors on YouTube
This led to a pitch meeting with CBS executives in Hollywood. He had a sitcom; They wanted it. He returned them. “The more I lived with it and thought about it, I thought, this is unlikely to work on an American network.”
But they started talking casually about an hour into Stephen Colbert’s show. “I said, ‘I think you’ve got an opportunity there to have an hour that embraces the Internet; make a show that goes on at 12:37, but people enjoy and watch all day because that’s how viewers are now consuming their content in your traditional 12 :30 audience, they’re still watching, they’re just watching differently.'”
To his surprise, CBS offered him the show.
Mankiewicz asked, “Were you afraid? Or were you afraid of failure? A better way to do it?”
“I don’t know if I’m afraid of failure,” Corden said, “because I think it’s a fun thing, failure.” You can only judge anything by your own personal human growth. So, having said that, you want the show to be successful but honestly, I think it was pretty easy for me, because I thought, I’m so sure it’s not going to work!”
But it has been since Night One. Corden converted to a familiar format; The couches and desks remained, but the guests appeared together, with segments that made it more of a viral variety show than anything else.
Take “Carpool Karaoke.” “It’s a crazy thing,” Mankiewicz said, “the idea of touring with an artist and having them sing. I mean, it’s so simple and so perfect. It’s genius.”
Corden said, “Well, I think there’s something very human about it. The songs are the glue that holds everything together. But there’s an intimacy that comes out of that interview, which I think, is a human atmosphere. That’s all of us in the car.” Guy.”
But not with Paul McCartney, who goes down as a personal favorite for Corden. “The piece with Paul McCartney was probably the pinnacle of it as an idea,” he said. “Going to his house, where he hadn’t set foot, I think, since he left (Liverpool). And he said, ‘I’m not exactly comfortable. I feel weird about it.’
“I go, ‘Should we go in?’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, let’s do it!’ And, oh God! What have I done to deserve such a memory?”
Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke by The Late Late Show with James Corden on YouTube
Given all this success, and how much he’s changed late at night, why leave now? The answer is both personal and professional. “We really want our children to experience life in London,” Corden said. . That’s it. There are a lot of other things I want to try and see what I might be able to do.”
He seems capable of anything. He is now starring in a limited series “Mammals” on Amazon Prime.
“More than anything, I want to sort out, I have to go and see what’s out there,” he said.
He’s also navigating recent bumps in the road. The owner of a posh New York restaurant briefly banned him after he sparred with the wait staff. Corden apologized in a phone call and then on air.
The owner lifted the ban. But in this age of endless news cycles and social media, the story will not die. Corden is clearly tired of discussing it.
Mankiewicz asked, “This little round of Internet issues that’s been going on, must have bothered you?”
“Perspective is really important,” Corden said. “We really try and create such a positive show. Try and look for that positivity. And if you put your focus there, that’s what I try and do, I try to do every day that we’re here, you know?”
Corden has figured out a way to navigate these strange times: “I don’t have social media on my phone. It’s not a world I engage in.”
He is fully engaged in “The Late Late Show”. Now he’s giving it up for good.
“Can you imagine a scenario where you’d be back on late-night television?” Mankiewicz asked.
“I can’t imagine a situation where I would come back as a late-night host. I would be very, very surprised if it did. I would be shocked!” She laughed.
It looks like he is already disillusioned by his adopted country since 2015 “I think America is a great place,” he said “It’s a very, very special place to work, a very, very special place to live, and it’s a very, very special place to sit behind a desk and ask people to be around and you come back right away. Privilege. It’s really, really. either.”
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The story was created by Gabriel Falcone and Anthony Laudato. Editor: Chad Cardin.