James Corden Reveals Why He’s Saying Goodbye to ‘The Late Late Show’ and Hello to England

Late-night star also talks friendships with Adele and Harry Styles during Stern Show return

April 26, 2023

James Corden joined the Stern Show on Wednesday morning for the final time as host of “The Late Late Show,” sitting down with Howard just a few days ahead of the beloved CBS show’s much-ballyhooed finale. The 44-year-old, Emmy-winning English entertainer opened up about an array of subjects during the conversation, from his close friendships with A-listers Adele and Harry Styles to which Oscar-winning movie role was very nearly his for the taking. Corden reflected upon his “Late Late Show” legacy, from the highs of taping “Carpool Karaoke” with Sir Paul McCartney to the lows of being unable to get boxed in with Jennifer Lopez, and whether or not the so-called late-night wars are overblown. He also revealed why even a massive contract offer from the network couldn’t keep him from calling it quits and moving back to England with his wife and three children.

“If I allow myself to think about the financial aspects of walking away, it makes my chest tight,” James conceded.

More important than any big payday, however, was Corden’s commitment to his loved ones. “My family has walked to the beat of my drum for like 12 or 13 years now,” he said, explaining that with his children getting older he wanted to make the move before they’d forged more meaningful lives of their own. “If not now, when? That’s really what it came down to,” he later added.

James also sought to live closer to his parents. “To be able to call my dad on Thursday and say, ‘What are you doing today? … Do you want to go for lunch?’ That is a feeling that I’ll just never ever get back [because one day] the phone is going to ring, and that option is not going to be there anymore, he said, adding, “To have missed out on those moments in exchange for money doesn’t feel like a good decision.”

So, what would James do with his career after returning to England?

He wasn’t sure just yet, though he did have a few projects noodling around in his head.

Howard did make one request: “Promise me you won’t start an Only Fans,” he joked.

“I cannot promise you anything at this moment because I think we can all agree that would be far more profitable to me than any contract CBS could offer,” Corden responded with a laugh.

The One Guest James Wishes He Scored for Carpool Karaoke

On his show’s wildly popular “Carpool Karaoke” segment, Corden has duetted with some of the biggest names in music, from Paul McCartney to Mariah Carey. But there’s at least one guest he still wishes he could have landed — Paul Simon. “I adore him,” he told Howard before recounting the long road trips he’d take with his family that turned into some of his most “joyous memories” largely because his dad would play Simon’s “Graceland” album for him, his mom, and his sisters. “My mom would just be asleep and the four of us would just sing every single word … that album, I think, might be perfect.”

One song from the 1986 album that particularly moved a teenaged James Corden was “Gumboots.” “He’s got a lyric where he says, ‘You don’t feel you could love me, but I feel you could,’ which I think sums up how any sort of stereotypically unattractive boy at the age of 14 or 15 feels about every girl at their school at the time,” he said, adding, “It’s so optimistic.”

The memory inspired James to book Simon for a segment featuring his entire family, but it never came to fruition. “I had this idea where I would try to surprise my mum and my dad and sisters and that we’d all get in this car and sing the song but … he’s hard to get, as he should be,” he revealed to Howard.

She’s Just Jenny From the Box

Another icon who did “Carpool Karaoke,” along with several other “Late Late Show” bits, is Jennifer Lopez. Unfortunately, one segment with the otherwise game star never materialized — the two living together on a Sunset Boulevard billboard to promote Lopez’s 2022 Netflix documentary, “Halftime.” “What we got told was that J.Lo would really love to do something … where we’d incorporate [the billboard in the bit somehow],” Corden recalled. “I was like, ‘Well, why don’t we suspend a glass box over the billboard and J.Lo and I will live in it for a day? … We’ll have like a couch in there and we’ll just hang out.’”

Ultimately, scheduling and permits prevented the idea from getting executed. “Logistically it went away, but I think that would have been real fun,” James remarked. “We were going to see if like Ben Affleck would just come and pop in for half an hour, maybe deliver us our lunch.”

Story of His Harry Styles Vacation

James made headlines a few years back when he vacationed in the Caribbean with pop star Harry Styles. The “Watermelon Sugar” singer is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable people in the world, but Corden assured Howard he didn’t mind being a little bit overshadowed. If anything, he found the experience grounding.

“This is arguably the most desirable, famous man on the planet right now,” James said. “I think it’s very, very good [to be around him]. I think it’s a positive thing in your life.”

How much does Corden admire Styles? So much so that the late-night host did his best to adopt the singer’s nutritional habits and exercise regimen while on vacation together. “I lasted like 36 hours,” Corden told Howard. “Once I’ve had a drink, I’m like, ‘I should get some fries.’”

Rolling in the Deep With Adele

Another celebrity who joined Harry and James on vacation was Grammy-winning superstar Adele, whom James has known for well over a decade. “It’s a deep sort of family connection, and I just love her,” James said of the 34-year-old singer-songwriter behind hits like “Hello” and “Set Fire to Rain.”

Considering Corden met Adele long before she went platinum, Howard wondered if he was at all surprised by her incredible industry successes.

“I couldn’t have been less shocked,” James told him, saying he knew she was destined for greatness after hearing her “extraordinary” cover of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.”

“What’s amazing with her is there is this seismic gap between the artist and her. Spend enough time with her personally and you can forget [she’s so skilled], and then she’ll just sing along to something and you’re like, ‘Oh my god,’” he continued. “I think she is just a generational talent.”

A Whale of an Opportunity

James has enjoyed considerable big screen success throughout his career, starring in comedies, family films, and musicals adaptations alike. On Wednesday, he told Howard he’d also been under consideration for the titular role in the Oscar-winning drama “The Whale.”

“It was a very long time ago,” James said, explaining that at the time designer turned filmmaker Tom Ford was attached to direct the project. “He sent me an email one day saying, ‘I’m going to direct this film and I want you to play this part.”

Despite loving the script and Ford’s previous work, Corden was trepidatious. “It was in every sense a heavy role … [but] I was like, ‘Look, if you think I can do it, I will do it,’” he recalled. “But then Tom dropped out of the film for different reasons that aren’t mine to say.”

Darren Aronofsky ultimately directed actor Brendan Fraser to great success in “The Whale,” but that didn’t upset James. “It never got far enough to be, like, ‘This is happening’ … Things like that happen all the time,” he said. “The film Darren made with Brendan Fraser is absolutely the film that should be.”

As far as Hollywood endings went, James and Howard couldn’t think of much that topped Fraser’s heartwarming comeback as a leading man. “If that doesn’t give you hope that anything’s possible, nothing will,” Corden said.

“The Late Late Show with James Corden’s” final episode airs the night of Thursday, April 27, on CBS.