James Corden on Hosting the CFDAs and Why Late Night TV Is Romantic
Fashion might not be what first comes to mind when you think of James Corden, the British funnyman who’s recently taken over The Late Late Show on CBS and has serious acting clout from performances on both screen and stage. But when it was announced that he’d be hosting this year’s CFDA Awards on June 1, we knew he had to have at least a few sartorial tricks up his sleeve. After all, being funny alone probably wouldn’t cut it!
Well, we had the chance to chat with the Tony Award–winning actor, and it turns out he’s not only well versed in the crème de la crème of menswear—he really enjoys fashion, too. That said, he stressed not having a clue what to do for the CFDAs, but given his überwitty and charming personality (this interviewer became an instant #fangirl), we have total faith that he’ll have the whole room in tears.
Scroll down to find out why Corden will be extra nervous for the CFDAs and how he convinces tons of celebrities to goof around on his show.
How have you been preparing for the CFDA Awards?
Well, I mean, I haven’t! People keep asking me how I’m planning for the CFDAs, and I wasn’t even entirely sure what the CFDAs were. I just said yes because Anna [Wintour] asked me to do it. So, I’m slightly concerned as to what people might be expecting me to do. What should I do? You tell me!
Well have you done any research for it?
No, I mean, I have to make an hour of television every day, I’ve got a 6-month-old daughter and a 4-year-old son—when am I supposed to research? I’m sort of confused as to what I’m supposed to do, really! I don’t even know what the jokes could be! I’m not sure if this is an audience that can laugh at themselves.
Oh, they definitely are! I mean, how did Anna Wintour pitch it to you?
She just said, “I think this is something you should do. It’s a real honor, especially when you see the list of people who are going to be there and who are nominated.” I really do think that fashion has a real place [in the world] and is about so much more than just clothes, you know what I mean? It’s confidence, too. I don’t think I’m an obvious choice [to host], but I’m very pleased that they made it.
Have you spoken at all to past hosts, like Seth Meyers or Andy Cohen?
No, I haven’t spoken to anyone actually, mostly because I’ve only just started The Late Late Show and I don’t really know what I’m doing there, let alone [what I’m doing] hosting the CFDAs in New York. So I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m trying my best.
Are you enjoying hosting The Late Late Show so far?
Yeah, I’m very pleased with how it’s going. We’ve hit the ground running a lot sooner than I thought we were going to, and people have responded to it really well, so I’m very thrilled about that.
Yes, and you were just nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award, so congratulations on that!
Yeah, thank you! It’s pretty amazing. I mean, we’ve only done 25 episodes, and historically these shows start pretty badly and get better with time, so I’m very thrilled to be praised by critics [like that] so early in our run.
Has anything about the new gig been particularly surprising, because it was such a huge change for you?
Nothing really surprising, but you never really know what it’s like until you’re doing it. Like, oh okay, it really is just about creating an hour of television every day, and there’s something very exciting about having an idea in the morning and putting it on television that same night.
How do you manage to convince celebrities to do specific acts with you, such as the Mariah Carey car sing-along?
It’s mostly just about putting them at ease and [assuring] them that is not a show where they’re going to end up looking stupid—if anyone’s going to look stupid on our show, it’s me. I think as soon as people realize that, they’re up for the job and in for the fun of it.
Is there anyone who you’re just dying to get on the show?
Oh man, so many people! All the same people that everyone else wants on their shows, really. I’m a big fan of Chris Pratt, so I’d love to have him on the show, [along with] Tom Cruise and Will Smith.
Have you looked to other talk show hosts for inspiration?
Well since I didn’t really grow up here, the people who influenced me may not be people you’ve heard of, like Chris Evans or Michael Parkinson, or maybe Graham Norton, who you’ve probably heard of. Late night hosts like Letterman and Leno weren’t really on when I was growing up.
Do you agree with the common belief that there’s a difference between British and American humor?
I don’t think [there is]—I think that if something’s funny, it travels. You know, I’d never been to New York before or sat in a coffee shop in New York, but I loved Friends. It’s weird [because] when you’re making a film or TV show in Britain, there’s always this thought of Oh, I wonder if this will work in America. But no one in America is ever going Oh, I wonder if this will work in the UK.
How has living in L.A. with your family been?
Good, so far! It’s nice waking up with them every morning. I think L.A. gets a bad rap sometimes—people say things about it that I [actually] see everywhere. You know, people will say, There are loads of shallow people—[as if] there aren’t shallow people in London and there aren’t shallow people in New York? From what I can see, there seems to be more creative people here per square mile than anywhere else in the world. That said, I will always have a soft spot for New York, and I’d say that’s where our family had the happiest time of our lives [so far], while I was doing a play there.
Do you prefer the theater above all else?
I think so, but I like doing a bit of everything, really—that’s why this [new] job is so much fun. But I do enjoy the feeling of being in a [theater] company and that instant reaction from the audience. I enjoy that you tell a story completely in one night—that it has a beginning, a middle, an end. I really like a day that has a “point,” where everyone’s just working towards that moment—which is another reason I like doing The Late Late Show so much. There’s a very romantic feeling behind it.
How nervous do you get before a show?
Well, I get nervous at the start, which is followed by excitement, but I’ll be very nervous for the CFDAs—mostly because I have no idea what I’m going to do or say.
Do you know what you’re going to wear yet, and do you like fashion in general?
I’m wearing a Tom Ford suit. It’s easy for guys, though—it’s just suits. I really like clothes, yeah! Tom Ford, Burberry, Lanvin—they’re my go-tos. Burberry I just love. I think what Christopher Bailey’s done with that brand is unbelievable—the way that he’s turned it into something so unique is amazing. I love Lanvin because I really love Alber [Elbaz]—he’s a bigger guy, as am I, so he always makes clothes for us, and I feel I should support him in that. And Tom Ford just knows what he’s doing!
Do you find the fashion crowd to be more intimidating than your average audience?
I don’t know, because I’ve never really spoken to them before! I really need to start thinking about it! It’s going to be a disaster—I’m going to be the worst host of all time. Come up to me at the CFDAs and say hi. I’ll go, “I told you it was going to be terrible,” and you’ll go, “I know, I thought you were kidding. I didn’t expect it to be that bad!”
Who would you like to see host the CFDAs next year? Let us know in the comments!