The Late Late Show‘s James Corden is featured in the March 2017 issue of Esquire.
In 2012, James Corden was a sensation in the West End and on Broadway with One Man, Two Guvnors, a madcap, madly British farce (loosely adapted from an eighteenth-century Italian play) that was a perfect showcase for his skills at vocal mimicry and knockabout slapstick. One night Les Moonves had a ticket. “I was captivated,” Moonves told me. “I’d never heard his name before, but I said, ‘We gotta do something with this guy.’ “
One measure of this change—and also, in a way, of its incompleteness—is that Corden’s digital triumph has fueled persistent rumors about an imminent shake-up in CBS’s lineup, with him taking the 11:30 slot from the floundering Colbert. Late night is one of the last old-media battlegrounds in a disrupted landscape, and the habit of sniffing out intrigue dies hard.
“It just seems sort of silly to me. I really love him,” Corden said, referring to Colbert. “So I always find it slightly embarrassing. I really don’t think there’s any substantial evidence at all. I really don’t think it exists.”
Corden’s career seemed to be pointing in every direction other than late night: He was a proven sitcom star with two hit Broadway shows and a Tony Award under his belt and plans for a revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He also had a growing family and didn’t like spending his children’s birthdays on faraway movie sets. “The more I thought about it,” he said, “the more I realized,’Here’s someone offering me a chance to be at home every night with my family and try something that I might do quite well.’ ” So the family—Julia was pregnant at the time—prepared to make the move from London to Los Angeles.
The Late Late Show with James Corden airs weeknights at 12:37/11:37c on CBS.
Photo Credit: Cedric Buchet for Esquire