- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
“The get of the century,” is how FYC virtual panel moderator RuPaul described James Corden and his Late Late Show landing Prince Harry for his first sit-down interview since moving to Montecito with wife Meghan Markle. Aired on the Feb. 25 broadcast and dropped on YouTube that night without any pre-release promotion (or advance leaks), the segment, titled “An Afternoon With Prince Harry & James Corden,” has been viewed more than 25 million times and praised by media insiders for humanizing the royal thanks to a candid conversation on a double-decker bus and bits like a stop at the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air house and a Spartan Race obstacle course challenge.
RuPaul asked Corden to open up on how he first met Prince Harry and Corden joked, “There was a certain time in London if you went out long enough and ended up drinking long enough, you’d probably bump into Prince Harry once in a while.” He got serious by saying that he’d “always been very, very fond of him” and even agreed to do a 10-minute performance at his wedding to Markle in 2018. Ever since, Corden said that Prince Harry has continually offered to “do something” on his CBS show, and once the royals moved to Southern California, he ultimately reached out. “He said, ‘We’re coming out of lockdown, I’m in L.A., do you think we should plan something fun to almost cheer everybody up in a way,” recalled executive producer Ben Winston who also appeared on the virtual panel alongside Corden and executive producer Rob Crabbe. “And then, obviously, as soon as you say something like that to us and our team, our brains go crazy.”
Winston, who also produced the recent Grammys telecast as well as the Friends reunion for HBO Max, praised Corden’s interview skills for making the sit-down such a success and for getting Prince Harry to open up in a way he might not have on another show. As for why they opted for a surprise debut, Winston said at the time there was so much buzz about the couple’s interview with Oprah Winfrey that was to premiere weeks later. “Everybody had an opinion of that Oprah interview and they hadn’t seen it. The British media were full of [opinions] about whether they should do it or shouldn’t do it. Was it good? Was it bad? We were like, ‘Let’s stay out of this. Let’s just drop it and no one can write an opinion piece without everybody having the ability to see it and judge it with their own eyes.”
Though Prince Harry did not break out into song while riding on the double-decker bus, the interview vibe was not unlike what Corden has cultivated with his wildly popular Emmy-winning segment “Carpool Karaoke.” RuPaul asked about the ongoing franchise and Corden said that what he’s most proud of is the “stripped-down interviews” he does with stars like Adele, Paul McCartney, Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and the list goes on.
“These are people who, in their day-to-day lives, are never on their own. They are always with managers, security, hair, makeup, assistants, all these things, and suddenly, it’s just me and them and some fixed cameras having a chat and singing the hits,” he said, adding that his philosophy behind having huge stars on the show is to keep the shine on them. “All we ever want to do is for our guests to shine, to have a great time. If they shine, the show shines, and if the show shines, then we all keep going.”
Speaking of rolling on, RuPaul asked the trio if the pandemic has changed the way they will produce the show from here on out. “That’s the million-dollar question, Ru,” answered Corden. “We don’t know. We talk about it a lot.”
Winston admitted that he thinks the first 15 minutes of the show now are better than the previous five years because they adapted to the pandemic, switched up the format and found surprising ways to be spontaneous and keep the audience entertained. “We wanted to get out of James’s garage quickly, so we actually redid our set,” he explained of the more intimate set design. “We gave our crew the license to banter back and forth, … showing James as this leader of this gang in a really fun, beautiful way. I think we’d be really remiss to go back to a six-minute monologue with 170 people screaming and clapping after every joke because I sort of feel like we’ve shown that we can do something more inventive and exciting where people are tuning in because they literally don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The full FYC conversation can be found below.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day