James Corden Fondly Recalls The Time Gene Wilder Turned Him Down With The Sweetest Message

Most of the world found out that Gene Wilder had passed away in the early evening, which is poor timing for most of late night to mount any meaningful tributes to the late comedic great. But James Corden managed to put together a touching opening to his show where he talked a bit about his personal connection to Gene Wilder over the years, first meeting the star after a play in New York.

Corden and Reggie Watts shares some praise for Wilder’s career, but the real treat comes out of that meeting in New York. The host and Wilder sat backstage for half an hour and all he wanted to talk about was how Corden’s family was adjusting to New York. That meeting left the door open for Corden to reach out when he got The Late Late Show, sending Wilder an email asking if he’d like to take part in the opening bit of his first show. The response and rejection, in Willy Wonka fashion, was pretty magical:

Dearest James,

I don’t do or go where you were hoping, but I’ll be looking for you.

With my love,


As Corden says, it is likely the nicest way that anybody could ever turn you down. We’re so used to just no response these days that anything along those lines is refreshing. You can check out the first Late Late Show sketch below to see how Wilder might’ve fit in. The Willy Wonka influence is definitely clear, even if there’s no magical musical number.

(Via The Late Late Show)

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