James Corden’s rise from Smithy to Stateside A-lister
He will be returning to his comedy roots for a one-off Gavin And Stacey Christmas special.
James Corden’s career has so far taken him from a town in Essex to the Broadway stage, and he has become a firm favourite in American households hosting The Late Late Show.
The 40-year-old father-of-three, who is perhaps best known in Britain for his role as the likeable mate Neil “Smithy” Smith in sitcom Gavin And Stacey, based in Essex and Wales, enjoyed favourable reviews when he was beamed into living rooms across the US for the first time at the helm of one of the country’s most popular television shows in 2015.
The comedian, who was awarded an OBE in the 2015 New Year Honours list for his services to drama, took over as presenter of The Late Late Show from Scottish-born comedian Craig Ferguson, who spent 10 years as host.
Corden, who grew up in Buckinghamshire, discovered a talent for making people laugh while at school, to the detriment of his educational achievements, and got his stage acting break in the musical Martin Guerre at the age of 17, although he quit because he found it boring.
The star, who harboured dreams of being in a boy band as a teenager, went on to land a TV role in a Channel 4 music business spoof Boyz Unlimited.
He then played a regular role in the ITV drama Fat Friends, where he became pally with actress Ruth Jones.
Roles in the stage and film version of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys and the movie Starter For Ten ensured he became a familiar face, and developed into a national favourite thanks to the comedy series Gavin And Stacey, which he co-wrote with Jones and which graduated from BBC Three to BBC One.
His rise has not been without the occasional hiccup – his BBC sketch show with Mathew Horne and the movie Lesbian Vampire Killers showed he did not have an entirely gilded path.
But he landed serious acclaim for his acting abilities when he starred in the National Theatre, West End and Broadway runs of the production of One Man, Two Guvnors.
The comedian has already enjoyed TV presenting roles, hosting sports shows A League Of Their Own and James Corden’s World Cup Live, as well as fronting the Brit Awards numerous times.
Corden, whose role as Smithy in Gavin And Stacey often played on his weight, shed six stone ahead of the launch of his TV career in the US.
The Carpool Karaoke segment of his US show, which sees him sing in the car alongside various stars, has featured some of the biggest names in the music business including Sir Paul McCartney, Ariana Grande, Adele and more.
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday’s Event Magazine in 2018, Corden paid tribute to late singer George Michael, saying Carpool Karaoke would never have happened without him.
Michael appeared in the first iteration of the sketch, inspired by Gavin And Stacey and filmed for Comic Relief, in 2011.
He told the publication: “It wouldn’t exist without him and his ability to laugh at himself. No question.”
In his personal life, Corden, who moved from London to Los Angeles with his family, has been married to Julia Carey since 2012.
He has hosted the Grammy music awards twice, and in June this year will once again host the Tony Awards in New York.
Hosting aside, he has also landed numerous roles in big films, including Ocean’s 8 and voicing the lead character Peter Rabbit in the 2018 film.