James Corden Remembers Meeting, Emailing With "Magical" Gene Wilder

James Corden and Gene Wilder Split-Getty-Photofest-H 2016
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic; Paramount Pictures/Photofest

"Even his emails sounded somehow like Willy Wonka."

On Monday's Late Late Show, James Corden took a few moments to reflect on the passing of Gene Wilder.

"He was never anything less than brilliant at all times," said Corden.

He remembered a time when Wilder came to watch a play Corden was acting in in New York. Corden said everyone in the cast was nervous about Wilder being in the audience. After the play was over, Wilder went backstage and chatted with Corden for half an hour.

"We sat on this couch, and I’ll never forget it as long as I live," said Corden. "All he really wanted to talk about was how my wife and son were adjusting in New York, and were we happy and was it fun? It was amazing.”

The duo exchanged email addresses, and when Corden had his first Late Late Show episode he opened with a Willy Wonka sketch. He contacted Wilder to ask if he wanted to be a part of it.

“He sent me an email back where, in the history of people saying no to things, it couldn’t have been nicer,” Corden said. “The email he sent me, it just said ‘Dearest James, I don’t do or go where you are hoping, but I’ll be looking for you. My love, Gene.’

Corden continued, "Even the way he said no was so poetic. Even his emails sounded somehow like Willy Wonka."

He concluded by saying that Wilder will be deeply missed. "The truth of it is that he was just a magical person, and he made everybody around him feel this incredible feeling of joy. It’s what I felt when I watched him, it’s what I felt when I met him. That's what I hope he's feeling now wherever he is."