James Corden is a British entertainer, best known for hosting The Late Late Show with James Corden and the show’s most popular recurring segment, “Carpool Karaoke.” Though he’s now on the Hollywood A-list and one of the most beloved late night hosts in the business, he didn’t get the job until he was in his thirties, which might lead many to wonder how James Corden got famous in the first place.
James Corden’s first taste of fame was in England, where he worked on a variety of productions before creating the BBC’s hit show Gavin and Stacey. Though the show’s success did not garner much attention stateside, he became a veritable star in his home country.
Read more below about James Corden’s childhood, the start of his career, and how he went from a U.K. success story to one of the biggest stars in Tinsel Town.
Childhood Dreams and the Journey to Success
James Corden was born and raised in the Greater London area, in the suburb of Hazelmere. Unlike many of his fellow celebrities, Corden did not pursue acting or comedy as a child, and he did not take the stage until he was 18-years old.
After high school, Corden worked on a variety of television shows, commercials, and lesser known films before finding mild success with Fat Friends and The History Boys. However, it wasn’t until James Corden came up with the idea for the hit U.K. show, Gavin and Stacey, that he came to prominence in the British media.
The show was a critical and commercial hit, but Corden earned himself a poor reputation during the run of the show, showing off diva behavior for someone who’d only just found success. In his autobiography, May I Have Your Attention, Please?, Corden described his exploits, writing, “If I was in company and the conversation wasn’t revolving around me, I would just switch off. The person I had become wasn’t the person I had wanted to be. I had drifted so far from my close friends and family that I didn’t know how to pick up the phone and talk to them anymore.”
It ultimately took Corden’s parents addressing the issue to get the actor back on track. The couple showed up without warning and confronted their son about his poor behavior, concluding with a group prayer and Malcolm telling Corden, “You’ve so much to be thankful for, James. I know it’s been a tricky year, but you can’t carry on like this.”
Television, Tony Awards, and Talk Shows
Gavin and Stacey ended its initial run in 2010, but Corden had another job lined up. He starred in a production of One Man, Two Guvnors in 2011. The play was such a success it moved to Broadway, where Corden won a Tony Award for Best Actor in 2012.
Though his star had been on the rise for years, it wasn’t until 2015 that he would become a household name in the United States. That year, Corden was chosen to take over hosting duties of The Late Late Show from predecessor Craig Ferguson, and it was a life-changing decision.
Corden himself was surprised to be given the job, thinking he was meeting with head execs at CBS about a new sitcom he had pitched. Instead, he was given the opportunity to take up the mantle from Ferguson, who had hosted the show for nearly a decade.
During an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Corden described how unsure he was of the gig, assuming he would be fired, saying, “We rented furniture. We rented a couch, everything in our house because I was like, ‘I’m gonna get fired and the only thing worse than getting fired would be getting fired and then left with a couch that we’ve got to get rid of somehow because we’ll be on the first flight back to London just going, ‘Well that was a disaster.’ I genuinely meant that.”
You can see Corden’s funny monologue about his rise to stardom in the YouTube video below.
Though it took a solid two decades of hard work, Corden has proven himself a venerable talent, able to act, sing, play piano, and get fantastic interviews from celebrities as a late-night show host. Though Corden plans to return to England one day, it’s unlikely his fame will ever fade now that he’s become one of Tinsel Town’s elite.