Actor and entertainer James Corden has had a lot of attention thrust upon him in his first few weeks of hosting CBS’s “The Late Late Show,” which he took over on March 23 after Craig Ferguson ended his 10-year stint in December. Corden earned a Critics’ Choice nomination, has gone viral on YouTube and followed David Letterman‘s very last episode of “The Late Show.” (Watch our complete video chat with Corden below.)
“It was an honor and daunting and terrifying to be the first person to speak after he said good night,” says Corden of following Letterman’s landmark sign-off. “How can a man who has just finished 6,000 shows and is as big an institution in broadcasting as you could ever imagine – he’s going to speak for the last time, and the first voice people are going to hear is going to be mine.”
That voice has carried far since his series debuted: “The things that we’ve done that people have responded to — we’ve done three [‘Carpool Karaoke’ segments, with Mariah Carey, Jennifer Hudson and Justin Bieber], and I think we’re over 34 million YouTube views just on those bits alone. I think the show in total is at like 110 million now in 36 shows, which I really feel very proud of, and I hope we can keep that level of content and spontaneity.”
When he had just 28 shows under his belt, he earned a Best Talk Show bid at the Critics’ Choice TV Awards, and because the show was still so young, at first he felt “very undeserving of it,” but eventually “I just felt incredibly proud to be in such company. I love all those other shows,” he says, noting his admiration for fellow nominees John Oliver, Jimmy Fallon and winner Jon Stewart.
All of this early recognition has come despite the fact that, before his show launched, “we didn’t even know if we’d be able to get any guests.” That was part of his reason for deciding to tape the show in Los Angeles, a city he’d never lived in before; the Tony-winning stage vet is well acquainted with New York City, but didn’t want to get lost in the glut of Gotham-based shows, including Fallon’s “Tonight Show” and Stewart’s “Daily Show.” But since moving out west, “I really am falling in love with it … It feels like a great place to try and be creative every day.”
That creativity has gone into making “a show that feels spontaneous and organic and that makes you say, ‘Did you see what they did last night?’ … I think we have a freedom in our show because it’s on at 12:30 … We can be a bit more bold and brave and do things and go for it, and try to make a show that feels like there isn’t a line between the audience and us. That’s how we want it to feel, like I’m not really a talk show host, that I am the audience – I just happen to be on this side of the line for a moment, until the show gets pulled off the air.”
Given its early success, it seems likely the show will get to stay on the air for quite a while, but Corden is still not getting his hopes up about further accolades. Of the prospect of an Emmy nomination for his “Late Late Show,” he says, “We don’t stand a chance, but thank you so much.”
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