James Corden Talks 'Late Late Show' Plans, Influences and Competition

“We have almost no ideas," he joked of his show, which bows March 23
Miller Mobley
James Corden

James Corden readily admits there's still no blueprint for his forthcoming late-night show.

On hand to tout his March iteration of The Late Late Show at the Television Critics Association's semiannual press tour Monday, the comedian acknowledged that he and his six-person team, which includes executive producers Ben Winston and Rob Crabbe, have been working on the show for all of four days and are short on details to offer. "If you're asking questions, we'd prefer that they be more suggestions," he joked to the roomful of reporters, adding to laughs: "We have almost no ideas."

The married father of two, who suggested he'd miss family and friends most in this move from the U.K., said the word that he keeps coming back to with regard to where he'd like to bring to his show is "warmth." "We want to make a warm show — a show that never feels spiky," he said, "because so much of what you see and read and are polluted by is not pleasant right now." But at this stage, he's still sorting out how — and if — he'll tweak the more traditional monologue > desk bits > interviews format that's become a staple of U.S. late-night shows.

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Unlike many of his stateside competitors, Corden's influences are not the Johnny Carson and David Letterman types, but rather British comedy giants like Graham Norton, Chris Evans and Jonathan Ross. And though he used the TCA platform to praise the stateside tradition and many of the current hosts — Letterman and Jay Leno's monologues, Craig Ferguson's interviews, Seth Meyers' personality and Jimmy Fallon's creativity — he's not yet sure how he intends to differentiate his show, except to say that he's game to lean on his sketch and song-and-dance background when it makes sense.

Fortunately, his producers were more willing to plug the unique skill set of the multihyphenate, whose background is as diverse as it is impressive: "What we've got in James is a performer that can do so many different things, so it's going to be a show that's going to be quite varied," said Winston, adding that he hopes the differentiator of Corden's show will be that viewers will be able to tune in and genuinely not know what they're going to get on a nightly basis. Earlier in the day, CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler had touted Corden's range as well, describing him as a cross between "Jack Black and Fred Astaire."

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As for his decision to take the gig, simple: This is the kind of creative challenge — creating an hour of television on a daily basis — that thrilled and terrified him at the same time. "When I see my name on the [Late Late Show] sign, it's enough to make me throw up on myself," he joked. That, and that film career that's been the focus of the Corden narrative in recent months as he's been promoting his latest film foray, Into the Woods, isn't quite as creatively rich as it may seem: "People get really carried away about quite how fulfilling making a movie is," he said, before adding: "Most of the time, you're sitting in a trailer in a parking lot freezing cold, going to the toilet on a very low, plastic toilet with a flush where you use your foot. That's it, that's most of your day."

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