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Funnyman James Corden on Succeeding Craig Ferguson as Host of THE LATE LATE SHOW

Funnyman James Corden on Succeeding Craig Ferguson as Host of THE LATE LATE SHOW

There’s been a hole in the hearts of fans of CBS’ The Late Late Show since longtime host Craig Ferguson departed the program last month. But it’s a hole that another multitalented UK comedian — James Corden — hopes to fill when he takes over on March 23rd. Despite his appearances on Doctor Who, his role in Into the Woods, and his Tony Award-winning turn in Broadway’s One Man, Two Guvnors, Corden is by no means a household name in the US. But after hearing his warm, witty introduction to his new show at this week’s TCA Winter Press Tour — where he was joined by executive producers Ben Winston and Rob Crabbe — we’re convinced he soon will be.

On taking over The Late Late Show

James Corden: It’s an honor to be taking over such a wonderful TV show, and it’s not lost on us how precious it is and how much we have to look after it. And we’ve been working on the show for exactly four days, and we have a staff of, I think, six. So if you’re asking questions, we’d love them to be more suggestions — as to things you might want to see on the show because we have almost no ideas.

On whether or not he’s putting the brakes on the rest of his career…

JC: There’s nothing more creative I think I’ll ever do in my career than to try make an hour of television every day. So in terms of creativity, I couldn’t feel less like I’m putting the brakes on and more like I’m putting my foot on the gas really. I’m from High Wycombe, which you’ve never heard of, in Buckinghamshire, and there is just no rhyme or reason why I should be given the opportunity to host a late-night talk show and talk to America every night and hopefully try and make them smile before or more like whilst they fall asleep.

On doing a daily TV show instead of making movies…

JC: Into the Woods is the greatest filming experience I’ve ever had. But that is not most filming experiences. Most of the time, you’re in a trailer on a parking lot, freezing cold, going to the toilet on a very low plastic toilet that you flush [with] your foot. That’s it. That’s most of your day. [Laughs] And if you’re talking about creativity, which is ultimately all I ever want to do, there are masses of days on a film set where your days acting could be walking from a car through a door. And they go, “That’s great. Let’s do it again.” And you go back and sit in the cold room, and then you come back out, and you get out of the car and walk in the door. “That was wonderful. We’re going to adjust some more things.” You go back… What I really love is a day with a point and a focus. The best thing about this show is we’re going to wake up in the morning and so often say, “What will we do tonight?” And that will become a scramble and a race to try to do something that’s funny, and the audience comes from this place, and then we do it, and it’s gone, and there’s another one tomorrow. So in terms of being creatively fulfilled, I don’t know if there’s a better thing that I could ever do with my time.

On being the main player versus taking a supporting role…

JC: I’ve been very lucky in my career to have hosted things — at the Brits five times and hosting A League of Their Own; and Ben and I did a show called World Cup Live, which I hosted. It’s daunting. Don’t get me wrong. While looking at the sign there with my name on it, it’s enough to make me throw up on my own self.

On whether or not Corden’s show will use writers from Ferguson’s show…

Ben Winston: We are meeting everybody. In truth, James and I moved to this country [and] I think we’ve been here eight days, seven days — meeting everybody on Craig’s team. It was a brilliant show that we loved, and I’m looking forward to meeting everybody in it, from the directors to the bookers to the writers. We just haven’t got that far yet. Right now, we’ve put together our core team, and we’re rapidly in the next few days making sure that core team becomes a little bit bigger.

james corden

On who his first guest will be…

JC: Our first musical guest is going to be Barack Obama singing a big song… No, we don’t know. We literally know nothing. It’s completely pointless our being here. [Laughs] We should be at work figuring out what the show is instead of telling you that we don’t know what the show is.

On who he’s watched on late-night American television…

JC: I’ve been watching quite a bit of the 12:30 show when [Letterman] started, and I mean, it’s jaw-dropping how good it is. It’s incredible how great he is. And then the same with Jay Leno. I just don’t think I’ve seen monologues like that. It’s incredible. Craig Ferguson’s interviews are some of the most organic and off-the-cuff and brilliantly judged moments I’ve seen. Jimmy Fallon’s enthusiasm, his absolute core enthusiasm. I said to Jimmy when I spent some time with him in New York, “Your show is the very thing that inspires me and terrifies me at the same time because when I watch The Tonight Show, I go, ‘Ah, I would love to do something like this,’ and then my fear is we might never ever be able to do something like this.” I think he is brilliant. And Seth [Meyers], I think [he’s] just genuinely one of the loveliest men I’ve ever met. For him just to have me on his show I think says so much about him. [I] hope that we can find the show that complements theirs in some way, that we can find an audience that says, “This is the guy we want to be with in this hour of time.”

On what he hopes to bring to his show…

JC: In this current climate, we want to make a warm show, a show that never feels spiky, a show that feels warm. Because so much of what you see and read and are polluted by is not pleasant right now, and I feel like if we can make a show that just sort of reaches out to people, and reminds that there are still wonderful things and it is still great…

On coming from the UK and making comedy for American audiences…

JC: In terms of humor, it’s a weird thing, you know, because coming from Britain, all the time people say in Britain, if you’re making a movie, if you’re making a TV show, people say, “Oh, I wonder if this will work in America.” But no one in America is ever going, “I wonder if this will work in the United Kingdom?” [Laughs.] You know what I mean? Like, you know, when they’re putting together Friends, they’re not going, “Oh, we really got to think a lot about whether the people of Plymouth are going to get this.” But funny is funny. I think if it’s good it travels, and I don’t know if I’ll ever do a more British show than One Man, Two Guvnors, which was so steeped in British humor. I remember saying to my wife, “Babe, there’s a real chance this isn’t going to work. So we should rent an apartment when we get to New York that we can get out of in a week.” [Laughs.] And I’ve taken a very, very similar view to the house we’ve rented here. But doing that play in New York, where the audience actually responded more positively — it was a bigger and louder response [than it had received in the UK] — really told me that, if it’s good, it travels.

The Late Late Show with James Corden premieres Monday, March 9, 2015 on CBS>

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  1. cheeseandcrackers says:

    no. i don’t want this guy. i want craig and geoff and secretariat back. BRING THEM BACK.

  2. Imacyn says:

    I need my Craigy Ferg fix!

    • DLinATL says:

      I will really miss Secretariat, he was so funny and endearing, especially that little kick he did before exiting the stage, always cracked me up!

  3. …you almost lost a viewer when you mention President Obama. Good luck!
    Now if we can just get Craig Ferguson to guest star on Doctor Who, there would be balance in the universe. Craig on drums, Capaldi singing, just like old times.

  4. i think i’l just wait for Craig and Geoff to return in whatever new medium they are going to be in.

    • Sir O'Sis of Liver says:

      You’re going to be waiting quite some time… the plans he hinted at in his finale fell through

  5. Kris says:

    If you’re not familiar with James’ work, do yourself a favor and check out a show called Gavin and Stacey, which he co-created, co-wrote and played a supporting role in. It’s fantastic.