Los Angeles – The last time we talked to the charming and amiable James Corden was four years ago for the musical fantasy “Into the Woods” where he appeared as The Baker.
Four years later, James is a successful TV host of his own talk show, “The Late Late Show With James Corden” where he is also the writer and producer. He has had so many A-list celebrities in his popular carpool karaoke segment and has had the likes of even former First Lady Michelle Obama singing with him.
When we interviewed him one Friday afternoon at the London Hotel in West Hollywood for his new animated 3D live-action comedy film, “Peter Rabbit,” where he voiced the mischievous rabbit of Beatrix Potter, we asked him what his character flaw was (a common thing “Peter Rabbit” points out in the film).
“My personal one?” he asked us. “Bread. Just mostly bread, eating bread. It’s out to destroy me as far as I can work out. That’s my biggest one for sure.”
The witty James, who just finished hosting the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, is happily married to TV producer and former actress Julia Carey and now has three kids with her – Max, six, Carey, three, and a six-week-old daughter.
The Will Gluck-helmed film, which is based on the stories of the character of the same name by Beatrix Potter, also features the voices of Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, and Elizabeth Debicki, and the live action roles played by Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne and Sam Neill.
James said he knew and read Beatrix Potter as a kid. He pointed out, “There’s almost nobody who grew up in Britain, who didn’t read these books or were read these books or loved these books and this character. And in truth, that is why when I got offered the chance to voice this character, I felt slightly reticent. I felt daunted by the prospect of it. Then it was only when I was told that people have been trying to make a “Peter Rabbit” film for decades and decades, and the Beatrix Potter estate had never given their blessing. But they read Will’s script and they felt that this was true to the character that had been created.
“So I feel very lucky to be able to do this film. The greatest thing that can happen is even if just one child would go search out these books and read them after watching the movie, then it would be an absolute success. Because I feel it is so important that children read and are read to especially in today’s world of phones, IPads, laptops and all these things.”
He added that his biggest memory of it was his parents reading to him the books when he was a kid. “But I remember thinking this is the first time that I have ever been read a story with a character who is naughty. Because most stories you are read as a child don’t involve a child going against their wishes of their elders. So that’s my overwhelming memory of it.”
So how much of a rascal and a rebel, like Peter Rabbit, was he?
“Well, I have spent a bit of my time as a rascal,” he admitted. “I have not really ever spent too much time as a rebel really. But I really like what my six-year-old son took away from the film. He said that Peter Rabbit was naughty and a bit mischievous and things like that, but he said, what he really liked in the film was that Peter made mistakes. But it’s how you react to mistakes that will define you. It’s not the mistake that you make. It’s who you are once you make that mistake. If that is the thing that children can take away from the film, it would be really wonderful.”
Asked about his three most memorable carpool karaoke experiences in his show, James revealed, “It’s very, very difficult to say to an artist who doesn’t want to do it, when Stevie Wonder has done it, you go, well Stevie did it, so what are you saying? And they go oh God, well if it’s good enough for him, I’ll do it. So that one really changed everything.
“I think the one we did with Adele, it just is inconceivable to me that that has been now watched by 177 million people, or 177 million views on YouTube alone. It’s amazing to me that a clip we can make is still viewed 200,000 times a week.
“Finally, the one we did with Bruno Mars, because I am such a fan of his. It’s just one that I had been looking forward to for so long. He does so little. He is so particular about what he does. The fact that he wanted that to be something that he would do, is incredible for all of us on our show.”
And if Donald Trump would guest on his show, what kind of songs would he ask him to sing?
“Well, he has never come by our show. When he was on the campaign, there was a moment where somebody called our office and said he was coming to Los Angeles. We came up with the best game to play with him. So we came up with a game called ‘Stand by It or Take it Back.’ Which is where he would have two paddles. I would read him something he said on the campaign trail, and he had to stand by it or take it back. If he took it back, it would be gone forever and he could admit it was a mistake and we could go no worries, we all do that. If he stood by it, he had to explain why. They very quickly didn’t want to come on our show.”
So is he planning to take the karaoke show to Asia where people love karaoke, we asked.
“Oh man, we would love to so much!” he exclaimed. “Do you know this band BTS? We were one of the first shows they came and performed on. We would 100 percent love to do one, maybe with them. But we would love to bring it back to the home of karaoke in Asia; that would be wonderful.”
Does he feel guilty having so much luck?
“It’s a funny thing luck, because I do believe in it and I believe all of your choices are half luck. I am sure there are many people somewhere thinking that we in this room are very, very lucky in truth. I feel like anyone who lives in the Western world is incredibly lucky is the truth. I do not doubt for a second that luck plays a part in all of the choices that you make.
“At the same time, I think Nick Faldo said something one time when he won The Masters for a second time in a row. And someone said wow, you have won The Masters and you are about to get on a private jet to go wherever and you are the luckiest man on Earth. And Nick Faldo said you know, it’s a funny thing, the harder I work, the luckier I get. I also think that there is some truth in that too.
“Do I feel blessed? Absolutely. But in truth, when I think about how lucky I am, when I think about things going great in my life, I don’t really think about work. Los Angeles is a weird place where magazines always have the top 100 most powerful people list. I would love it so much if one of those publications did the 100 Happiest People in Hollywood. Because that is actually all you are striving for. If you are striving for money or power or success, you are climbing a mountain which has no summit. It will never end because there is always going to be someone with a bigger boat.
“So when I think about how lucky I am, I think about a six-week-old daughter who is healthy, a three-year-old daughter who is healthy, a six-year-old son who seems to be thriving, and a wife who seems to like me.”
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