James Corden Reveals His Favorite 'Carpool Karaoke' Guest — And Why The Singer Almost Chickened Out Of The Challenge

james corden late late show pp
Source: CBS entertainment

May 22 2021, Published 12:01 a.m. ET

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He had a thriving television and theatre career across the pond, but James Corden was virtually unknown in America when he took the reins as host of The Late Late Show in 2015. 

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Since then, he's become one of Hollywood's biggest stars and the show's become must-see TV, especially its hugely popular "Carpool Karaoke" segment, where the chipper Brit, 42, takes a celebrity on a musical joyride. 

Corden, who shares kids Max, 10, Carey, 6, and Charlotte, 3, with his wife of eight years, Julia Carey, dishes on finding fame in the States — and finding new meaning in the chatfest after he started taping from the garage of his L.A. mansion amid the pandemic. 

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james corden late late show pp
Source: CBS Entertainment

"I think it is our responsibility to bring light and levity into people's homes," he says. "We want people to feel like, 'Well, here's a group of friends.' And we'll be here every night." 

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You just celebrated the sixth anniversary of The Late Late Show. Do you remember shooting the first episode? 
JC: I was quite anxious, because normally if you get these jobs you've been on SNL or The Daily Show or a Comedy Central series. I kept thinking, "Nobody knows who I am and no one knows what I can do." But then I thought, "Hang on a minute." I'd written some really successful British sitcoms and I'd done plays at the National Theatre and on Broadway. I actually had all the tools to make a really great first episode. 

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And then you became a star in the U.S. Was it hard at first having people recognize you on the street?
The show had been on the air maybe six months when I said to Julia, “Let’s just go to the beach.” We found this spot, and then we noticed this paparazzi photographer by these rocks. I walked over and said, “Look, buddy, you’ve got your photo now.” And he just went, "What?" And I went, "Come on!" And he went, "No, DiCaprio!" And behind me, sitting in a restaurant, was Leonardo DiCaprio.

James Corden
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Source: MEGA
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When did you realize "Carpool Karaoke" had become a phenomenon — and do you have a favorite guest?
When Michelle Obama's office got in touch and said she'd like to do it, that's a moment when you go, "Oh, OK. Our show may have achieved something." But if I had to choose the [segment] where I felt, "That's it — that's everything I wanted to make," it's the one with Paul McCartney

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How did you convince him to do it?  
It was really difficult getting it over the line. We pitched it to him, and he said, "I'm in, I can't wait." A month later, a message came to us that he'd got cold feet. He was back in again two weeks later and then changed his mind again. I wrote him an email saying I completely respected his decision, but that we'd already flown people to Liverpool and didn't have the budget to sustain that sort of expense without a finished product. The next day he said, "I'm sorry, I just had a wobble, I'll do it." Afterward, he told me that he'd had a blast. 

Was it challenging to stop filming in the studio last year?
We did some shows in my garage and made a special called HomeFest. All of the guests [performed remotely], but there was a vibrancy in the room and a cocktail party atmosphere. We were like, "How do we keep that?" So we changed our set. We have a crew of 10 or so people, and the band [who play live from their homes] is there. The show is so far away from what I imagined it being six years ago, but I've never felt more proud.


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