In 2015, when James Corden became the host of The Late, Late Show, the British comedy star felt a bit panicked that his new job could spell the end of his acting career.
But in fact it proved otherwise, with the 42-year-old quickly crowned King of Carpool Karaoke, as well as one of the most in-demand actors of our time.
In addition to widespread acclaim for this affable triple threat behind the desk during his late night talk show in the US, his role in the hit musical would also receive rave reviews. In the woods; as well as the lead voice Peter Rabbitand a standout cameo in the blockbuster Ocean 8.
It may have added to an OBE (Order of the British Empire) from the Queen, for services to drama, but Corden quickly bursts a bubble that he has the Midas touch.
‘Didn’t you see it? Cats? he asks The BINGE Guide, scratching his head and a smile, referring to last year’s monumental flop (which earned him a Worst Supporting Actor award at the annual Golden Raspberry Awards).
‘I’ve been through a lot of disasters,’ he chuckles, ‘but I come from the school of thought where failure is necessary. I think you learn more from your mistakes than ever from your successes, and I am referring not only to your career, but also to your life. “
A fan of the podcast, How to Failhosted by Elizabeth Day, he says, “Only when you embrace failure and understand that you fail can you truly succeed.”
It’s with that attitude that Corden signed up to sing and dance with Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Andrew Rannells in Ryan Murphy’s feel-good and fantastic new Netflix musical. The Prom.
It is based on the Broadway hit of the same name and is loosely inspired by the true story of a high school girl in the small town of Indiana who was not allowed to bring her friend to the prom.
The film follows a colorful group of self-obsessed Broadway theater stars who compete against the school’s executives in an attempt to change their discriminatory views to support a young girl who comes to her mother (played by Kerry Washington).
It’s a fun, happy romp with a serious and timely message about acceptance.
“I’m very lucky,” admits Corden, “I grew up in a household with a family that accepted everyone and those were the lessons we consistently received in our home. My mother was a social worker and my father was a musician in the Royal Air Force and then became a Christian bookseller. “
Growing up in Buckinghamshire with two sisters, he adds: “I grew up in a family of absolute love and support, always and everywhere. [Our parents] surrounded me and my sisters in absolute love to the point where I felt I was 10 feet tall and nothing was impossible. “
Given his childhood memories, replete with an abundance of positive experiences and encouragement, the idea of disapproval or negative reinforcement, especially around sexual orientation, is a totally strange understanding for Corden.
“Yes”, he nods. “I have friends who still haven’t come to their families for fear of the consequences,” he says, shaking his head.
And of course some people are still being persecuted for their sexuality, which is absolutely revolting. It’s disgraceful and disgusting and so I hope this movie can be a ray of joy in the slightest way to people who are struggling or who are scared and scared. They need to know that they are not alone and that there are people who are waiting with open arms to love them. “
He explains, “It’s very lighthearted, but the message in it is so real, the depth of it is so true, and I hope so much that it finds the people who need this message right now.”
Thanks to his TV producer, Julia Carey and their kids, Max, 9, Carey, 5 and two-year-old Charlotte, Corden says he’s surrounded by love and tied to the ground when he starts believing his own press.
“I work hard and nothing will ground you like a hard work schedule, so I don’t get much time to reflect on what I have or haven’t achieved in my career,” he says.
“I’ve made more mistakes than I’d ever like to admit, but I now feel in my life that I have enough people around me to tell me when I might be leaning towards an asshole.”
Bringing his family to America was never in Corden’s plan, he admits.
“I was afraid it would end my acting career and record the Late Show. I asked my dad about it and he said, ‘If you make a show where people can see all the different things you can do, provided you don’t hang around too long, that can only improve your career as an actor.’ He smiles, “Pretty smart for a High Wycombe Christian bookseller, right?”
Personally, Corden is just as easygoing as he appears on screen and admits that he is always cheerful.
“I could find happiness anywhere,” he shrugs. I am probably happiest on a couch staring at the corner of a rug. That’s how I feel.”
But there is a method in his zen state: “It’s all about being present. What you need to realize is that everything is gone and everything is unknown to you, so all you really have is this minute now, ”he says.
“If you try to be the best version of yourself, knowing that you will fail 50 times a day, but if your intention is to try to be the best version of yourself, here and now, then your life will be alone but a success. “
* The Prom will stream on Netflix on Friday, December 11