James Corden Reveals What Prompted Recent Eye Surgery

James Corden on The Ellen DeGeneres Show - Warner Bros. Publicity_H 2020
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The 'Late Late Show' host explains why he had to cancel remote tapings of his show a few weeks ago and how the injury kept him from driving in the Justin Bieber "Carpool Karaoke," as well as whether the popular segment could be filmed in the era of social distancing.

James Corden opened up about his recent, last-minute eye surgery when he visited The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday.

The Late Late Show host had to cancel some remote tapings of his show last month after he had to undergo "minor surgery," as he explained at the time on Instagram. Corden briefly addressed his absence when he returned the following week.

But on Wednesday's Ellen, Corden explained more about the injury that caused him to seek medical attention and what it was like to have the procedure.

Corden said that he injured his eye years ago while performing in a play in New York. "I used to do this bit in the play where I'd hit myself in the head with a trashcan lid and one night during the play I injured my eye. Not really badly," he recalled. "I had to go and see a doctor. He gave me some things and he said, 'Look, over some time, it will heal.' And it did."

"About a year ago it flared up again — this sort of little scratch on my eyeball," continued Corden. "I'd been seeing doctors a lot."

He then recalled being called out online for not driving the car while filming Justin Bieber's "Carpool Karaoke" segment. "We were being towed by a truck and people said that it was a disgrace that I didn't really drive," said Corden. "The reason I didn't drive that day was because my eye was really hurting and we were worried that it wouldn't be safe."

"Three weeks ago I woke up and I couldn't open my eye," he said. After struggling to find his phone and Advil, he reached out to his doctor. "He said, 'Look, I think we have to sort this out. I think this has been happening too many times.'"

"So we went to the surgery and he had a mask and gloves and all those things. He wiped the whole thing down. And he took one look at my eye and he said, 'We're going to operate on it now,'" recalled the late night host. "I said, 'But I've got a show at 5 p.m.' And he said, 'No you don't.' He said, 'You don't have a show — until the earliest — next week. You've got to do this right now.'"

Corden said he was "grateful" for the last-minute surgery because it didn't give him "time to dread it."

"It's the strangest thing because you're awake, but it's just numb so you can't feel anything," he said of the procedure. "I just kept going, 'Oh my God. Oh my God.'"

Earlier in the episode, Corden spoke about how excited he is to return to hosting The Late Late Show with an audience. All late night shows have been filming from the hosts' homes during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"It will be a while before we're singing in a car with anybody," he said about his fan favorite "Carpool Karaoke" segment. "We can't really think of a remote way to do it. It really does rely on two people being in close proximity."

"I think we're all experiencing those spikes of anxiety," he said. "Whenever I find myself getting like that, I just start to think of the day, whenever that may be, when it is safe to go out again and it is safe for you to go out and dance around your audience and it's safe for me to get in a car with someone. I think it's going to be the greatest boom of joy we've ever experienced."

"So whenever I find myself or me and my wife, or particularly our kids, thinking, 'Oh man. This is tough,' you just go, 'Well, right around the corner there's going to be, I think, a glorious — I have no idea how long away that is — but I think it will be spectacular."'

Corden also spoke about homeschooling his kids while they are stuck at home. "It's hard to know who's being homeschooled, whether it's me or my son," he said. "If I ever sit in on lessons with him, I find myself going, 'Wow. I did not know that.'"

He added that he "can't do" his 9-year-old son's homework. "I find myself going, 'You know what, Max. Honestly, you're not going to need any of this in life,'" Corden admitted. "Do you remember when we were in school? Teachers would go, 'Well, what are you going to do when there isn't a calculator around?' And you're like, 'Well, now there is always a calculator around.'"

Corden also explained his Shirt Off Shoot Off Challenge, which benefits Feed the Children. The challenge has NBA players throw the clothes that they are wearing into their laundry baskets in 45 seconds.

While many NBA players have participated in the challenge, Ellen producer Andy Lassner also played the game. Both Corden and DeGeneres agreed to donate $1,000 for each basket that Lassner made.