Earlier this month when CBS announced we would be getting James Corden as our new host of The Late Late Show a collective “who?” rang throughout the nation. Don’t feel bad if you have zero idea who this pasty James fellow is, current-Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson doesn’t know either. That’s not exactly a great sign, but then again, nobody knew who Conan O’Brien was when NBC gave him a talk show either, and that has worked out pretty OK.
Across the pond, Corden has co-created and starred in a number of television shows, worked in theater, hosted a game show, and been unofficially dubbed the annual host of the Brit Awards. So yeah, he’s kind of a big deal to British people. He has a reputation for being a bit arrogant and attention seeking — he did write an autobiography at 32 called May I Have Your Attention Please — but the guy is undoubtedly talented, so perhaps any arrogance will just come across as humorous confidence to American audiences. (CBS better hope so.) So if you’re wondering where this mysterious James Corden fellow came from, here’s some background on what he’s been up to in showbiz thus far.
His first TV success was in the British drama Fat Friends. Corden was a regular cast member in the series that followed the lives of a group of overweight people living in Leeds. For four seasons, Corden played Jamie Rymer, a bullied 15-year-old, and eventually earned a nomination for “Best Network Newcomer” by the Royal Television Society Programme Awards.
He’s best known for the show Gavin & Stacey. Corden honed his writing and acting chops with co-creator Ruth James on the immensely popular romantic sitcom that ran for 20 episodes over the course of three seasons and followed a couple trying to make their long-distance relationship work. The show was described by the Guardian as the “biggest comedy hit for the BBC since Little Britain” and won number of awards over the course of its run, including “Best New British TV Comedy.”
He’s worked in sketch comedy and as a game show host. Corden is primarily known as a TV and stage actor, having received rave reviews for his work in the 2011 Broadway play One Man, Two Guvnors, but he has sketch comedy experience too. In 2009 he was one half of the short-lived British sketch show Horne & Corden. After the show was cancelled, Horne blamed himself, telling the BBC that he “wasn’t good enough at writing sketches.” A year later took his comedy voice in a different direction, hosting the comedy/sports panel show A League of Their Own. The quiz show has two teams of three answering sports questions and is set to return for a new season on August 29th.
At this point, he’s the annual host of the British Grammys. Corden has hosted Britian’s version of the Grammys, the Brit Awards, five times (2009, 2011-2014) and seems to be their go-to man for keeping the show light enough with jokes that get laughs, but don’t send the censors clamoring for the bleep button.
American audiences might best know him from the movie Begin Again. Earlier this year, Corden co-starred with Mark Ruffalo and Kiera Knightly in the romcom Begin Again. If Kiera Knightly comedies with Adam Levine aren’t really your thing, you can also see Corden in the Americanized BBC dramedy The Wrong Mans that he co-created for Hulu.
And most importantly, Patrick Stewart’s not really a fan. For what it’s worth, reigning awesome British actor and internet hero Sir Patrick Stewart doesn’t seem to be the biggest James Corden fan. At least that’s how it came across at the 2010 Glamour Awards where Stewart jokingly criticized Corden for lingering in the background looking around like he had someplace better to be. Stewart later blamed his hostility on the award show’s open bar, but a fat joke had been made and the damage was done.