Inside Esquire's Mavericks of Hollywood Cover Party With James Corden, Edgar Ramirez and Leslie Moonves

In picking a roster of Hollywood trailblazers, editor-in-chief Jay Fielden explained: "(I was) looking for the next generation of great talent who is going to do stuff that doesn't follow any rule."
Zach Hilty/
James Corden poses with Desiigner at Esquire's Mavericks party honoring the late night host at Sunset Tower in West Hollywood on Feb. 8, 2017.

Esquire picked lovable late-night host and viral "Carpool Karaoke" phenom James Corden to be its March cover star. In doing so, it paired him with photographer Cedric Bouchet for a pair of covers, both of which feature the 38-year-old with something in his mouth — a lit match in one and the other, two mini toy trucks pushed in by a fork.

Perhaps playing off the pics, Corden couldn't get any words out to the press during a Wednesday night cocktail event (presented by Hugo Boss) at Sunset Tower, declining all interviews to support his cover of the mag, which featured him alongside 25 other Hollywood standouts in a special "Mavericks" package. The lack of words is understandable, though, given just how much lip-service is going to be required of Corden in the coming days, leading up to music's biggest night Sunday when he takes the stage at Staples Center to host his very first Grammys telecast. (There's plenty to chew on here anyway in Billboard's recent chat with the multihyphenate talent.)

Or perhaps it was just a maverick move — show up to your own Esquire party and allow the interview and photo spread to speak for itself. Luckily for The Hollywood Reporter, a few other stars were open to talking. Well, stars and Esquire's own editor-in-chief Jay Fielden, who is nearing his one-year anniversary at the helm of the storied men's mag after joining from Town & Country. (His resume also includes A-list publications like The New Yorker, Vogue and Men's Vogue.)

First and foremost on Fielden's transcript is a service to Hollywood mavericks who didn't get any ink this time: What the editor used as criteria to define and select this year's crop of mavericks. "To me what that means is being an upstart, a disrupter, or braver than the next guy to do something that maybe you thought you should do but you didn't have the courage but the other guy did," explained Fielden, standing in the entryway to Sunset Tower's packed restaurant. "(I was) looking for the next generation of great talent who is going to do stuff that doesn't follow any rule. I think (Corden) is like that."

Those who checked all the boxes and are included in the issue are: Moonlight filmmaker Barry Jenkins; the Duffer brothers of Stranger Things fame; Amazon Studios' Roy Price; filmmaker Adam McKay; actor Adam Driver; La La Land filmmaker Damien Chazelle; A24 (which released Moonlight); producer Steve Golin; FX's John Landgraf; filmmaker Taylor Sheridan; actor Riz Ahmed; Atlanta star Donald Glover; and creative duo Christopher Miller and Phil Lord. But what about Fielden himself?

"I tried to push myself to be (a maverick). It's easy to admire that but when you think about trying to be one yourself, you kind of want to wilt away and go back to the rose bushes and gardening or something. I kept thinking of the Churchill quote, 'Everything in my life has prepared me for this moment.' As I looked back at my life, it's true," explained Fielden, who took over the post from David Granger who spent 19 years in the job. "It's been intense man, to take something over like that and know that everybody's watching you and waiting to see if you can live up to it. You don't sleep very well."

Angelenos should be able to catch some Zs in knowing that he and his team won't forget about L.A. in their coverage. "It's a deeply important town full of talented people making some of the most important cultural products in the world," he continued. "There's money and personality and ego and conflict and lawsuits and art collections and big houses. All of those things that make for great reading."

What also makes for great reading (hopefully) is typing up what other guests at the party think the word "maverick" means. Orange is the New Black actress Lea DeLaria opted out, however, suggesting THR ask Senator John McCain. "I think he invented that word," she joked. "Or James Garner."

Malin Akerman was up to the challenge: "Somebody who is genius and changes the formula and makes it different and new and moves us ahead." So was 24: Legacy actor Dan Bucatinsky. "We hear these terms all the time — trailblazer, maverick — terms that are about people who either take flight on their own and blaze trails or are one of a kind and make people look or make people watch and take notice. I think all of these words mean someone who has become a role model in some way. It's a person who emerges from the noise or who has made some noise."

Corden is that person, he added. "Everyone can love him; he's an everyman. Maybe that's what a maverick is? I know what it's not. Trump is not a maverick. That's all I want to say."

Accompanied by her own in-house maverick, husband Leslie Moonves, Julie Chen wanted a little clarity on the question. "Other than the Dallas basketball team?" she laughed. "A maverick to me is someone who makes his or her own rules and breaks the mold on whatever it is that they do and is a real trailblazer. It's funny, Leslie is in some ways so old school and in some ways he's so groundbreaking. He's the best of both worlds — one of a kind, that's for sure."

Just like a silent James Corden.