James Corden: From Smithy to Stateside A-lister…and the Cats movie

Following the announcement of his departure from The Late Late Show next year, we look back over James Corden’s rise to fame.
James Corden: From Smithy to Stateside A-lister…and the Cats movie

By PA Reporters

James Corden’s career has so far taken him from a town in Essex to the Broadway stage, and he has become a firm favourite in American households hosting The Late Late Show.

The English TV presenter will leave his hosting duties on The Late Late Show in summer next year after more than eight years, broadcaster CBS has announced.

The 40-year-old father-of-three, who is perhaps best known in Britain for his role as likeable mate Neil “Smithy” Smith in sitcom Gavin And Stacey, based in Essex and Wales, enjoyed favourable reviews when he was beamed into living rooms across the US for the first time at the helm of one of the country’s most popular television shows in 2015.

Peter Rabbit UK Gala Premiere – London
The star, who harboured dreams of being in a boy band as a teenager, went on to land a TV role in a Channel 4 music business spoof Boyz Unlimited (Rick Findler/PA)

The comedian took over as presenter of The Late Late Show from Scottish-born comedian Craig Ferguson, who spent 10 years as host.

Corden, who grew up in Buckinghamshire, discovered a talent for making people laugh while at school, to the detriment of his educational achievements, and got his stage acting break in the musical Martin Guerre at the age of 17, although he quit because he found it boring.

The star, who harboured dreams of being in a boy band as a teenager, went on to land a TV role in a Channel 4 music business spoof Boyz Unlimited.

He then played a regular role in the ITV drama Fat Friends, where he became pally with actress Ruth Jones.

Roles in the stage and film version of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys and the movie Starter For Ten ensured he became a familiar face, and he developed into a national favourite thanks to the comedy series Gavin And Stacey, which he co-wrote with Jones and which graduated from BBC Three to BBC One.

Royal wedding
Corden, whose role as Smithy in Gavin And Stacey often played on his weight, shed six stone ahead of the launch of his TV career in the US

His rise has not been without the occasional hiccup – his BBC sketch show with Mathew Horne and the movie Lesbian Vampire Killers showed he did not have an entirely gilded path.

He starred as part of the ensemble cast in the 2019 live-action remake of Cats, which was received poorly by fans, alongside other A-Listers including Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen and Taylor Swift.

Corden, who played gregarious Bustopher Jones, told The New Yorker he had “a great time” making the film but did not have plans to ever watch it.

But he landed serious acclaim for his acting abilities when he starred in the National Theatre, West End and Broadway runs of the production of One Man, Two Guvnors.

The comedian has already enjoyed TV presenting roles, hosting sports shows A League Of Their Own and James Corden’s World Cup Live, as well as fronting the Brit Awards numerous times.

The Carpool Karaoke segment of his US show, which sees him sing in the car alongside various stars, has featured some of the biggest names in the music business including Sir Paul McCartney, Adele, Billie Eilish, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Justin Bieber and more.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday’s Event Magazine in 2018, Corden paid tribute to late singer George Michael, saying Carpool Karaoke would never have happened without him.

Michael appeared in the first iteration of the sketch, inspired by Gavin And Stacey and filmed for Comic Relief, in 2011.

He told the publication: “It wouldn’t exist without him and his ability to laugh at himself. No question.”

In his personal life, Corden, who moved from London to Los Angeles with his family, has been married to Julia Carey since 2012.

He has hosted both the Grammy music awards and the Tony Awards twice.

The Late Late Show has been Corden’s most successful onscreen venture, and he will have hosted the show for more than eight years by the time he hands over its reins next year.

His first episode aired in March 2015, with Hollywood star Tom Hanks featured as a guest on the opening night.

Like most other major US talk shows, filming of The Late Late Show was hampered by the coronavirus pandemic, including a special fifth anniversary special in March 2020.

An emotional Corden reflected on the show’s success in a virtual message to fans ahead of the episode’s airing.

Looking back on his first show, Corden said: “I’m filled with nerves and excitement and a feeling of when that curtain opened and I walked out for the first time, I didn’t know if I was going to fall flat on my face or if this was all going to be OK.

“And I never thought that day that I would be here today talking to you five years on.

“Thank you for this last five years, for letting me talk to you every night. I never expected it to be quite the journey that it’s been. Stay safe out there.”

Following the announcement of his departure he told US publication Deadline the decision to leave had been “really hard” but he was “immensely proud” of the programme and its achievements.

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