Wednesday 29 January 2020

'Magical' Gene Wilder once turned down James Corden's The Late Late Show in the most polite way

James Corden has spoken affectionately of Gene Wilder
James Corden has spoken affectionately of Gene Wilder Newsdesk Newsdesk

James Corden paid tribute to the late Gene Wilder on The Late Late Show on Monday night.

The much-loved actor died of complications through Alzheimer's at the age of 83.

"He was never less than brilliant at all times," Corden told viewers, as he recalled being "terrified" when the star came to meet him backstage when he was performing on Broadway.

He explained that during their meeting, Wilder enquired after how Corden's family were taking to life in New York.

"If anyone else came backstage they'd stay for five, six, 10 minutes tops," the host said.

"He sat in my room for half an hour and we sat on this couch and I'll never forget it as long as I live. And all he really wanted to talk about was how my wife and son were adjusting in New York and were we happy and was it fun. It was amazing and we exchanged emails."

When the 38-year-old presenter landed the gig as host of The Late Late Show back in 2014, he was hoping to make his debut with a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory sketch, where he discovered he'd gotten the job by finding a golden ticket in a chocolate bar.

"So I sent him an email, asking if he'd come and do a bit in it and he sent me an email back where he, in the history of people saying no to things, it couldn't have been nicer," Corden said of Wilder, who played the title character in the 1971 film.

The email read, "Dearest James, I don't do or go where you were hoping, but I'll be looking for you. With my love, Gene."

"Even the way he said no was so poetic, even his emails sounded somehow like Willy Wonka," Corden added.

"The truth of it is, he was just this magical person and he made everybody around him feel this incredible feeling of joy. It's what I felt when I watched him. It's what I felt when I met him. And that's what I hope he's feeling now, wherever he is.

"Thank you so much for everything you gave us, Gene Wilder, you are loved and you are going to be so dearly, dearly missed

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