It’s difficult to believe, but less than two years ago the name James Corden came with little to no recognition in North America. Since taking over Craig Ferguson’s position as the host of The Late Late Show (Monday to Friday at 12:37 a.m. ET on CTV) in March 2015, Corden has become one of the biggest contenders in both late-night TV and viral videos.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t enjoyed one of Corden’s hilarious celeb and music-filled car rides through the streets of LA, but few North American viewers would have been able to identify the actor back in 2009 when he shot his first iteration of Carpool Karaoke with the late George Michael for a charity event.
A well-known entertainer across the pond, it wasn’t until he becoming a staple on late-night TV that Corden made the difficult jump from from being a celebrity in his native UK to conquering the US and Canada. But conquer he has, with The Late Late Show Primetime Carpool Karaoke special now available on CraveTV.
Of course, the hilarious Englishman didn’t just come out of nowhere. Here are five of Corden’s best pre-Late Late Show roles that are worth revisiting.
FAT FRIENDS (2000 – 2005)
The drama series Fat Friends centred around a group of friends who meet while attending the same weight loss course. Corden spent five years playing Jamie Rymer, a role that earned him a nomination for Best Newcomer at the Royal Television Society Awards. It was while filming Fat Friends that Corden met co-star Ruth Jones, with whom he would work again on his own series Gavin and Stacey.
GAVIN AND STACEY (2007 – 2010)
Pulling triple duty as a co-creator, writer and series star, Corden spent three years writing the romantic comedy BBC series Gavin and Stacey with his friend Ruth Jones. The two writers play Smithy and Nessa, friends to the title characters Gavin and Stacey, a couple in a long-distance relationship. The series became the most nominated show at the 2007 British Comedy Awards and helped put BBC 3 on the map, winning two BAFTA in 2008, including the Audience Award and Best Comedy Performance for Corden. The fast-talking British series may take a few viewings to catch all the hilarious lines, but it’s definitely worth the binge.
THE BRIT AWARDS
The Brit Awards are the UK’s equivalent to the Grammy Awards, which means hosting them is a huge deal. Corden has hosted the annual award show an incredible five times, making a name for himself by playfully ‘taking the piss’ out of the UK’s biggest artists. Hosting The Brits meant that Corden became ‘mates’ with a number of big name artists, with his little black book primed and ready to go when he needed to find guests for his first season of The Late Late Show. The success of the Brit Awards helped Corden score hosting gigs like The Tony Awards and not surprisingly, the Grammy Awards.
BEGIN AGAIN (2013)
In the 2013 film Begin Again, Keira Knightley stars as an aspiring singer/songwriter who comes to New York City with her boyfriend (Adam Levine) and ends up heartbroken. Though his role is small, Corden plays Knightley’s best friend and roommate in Begin Again, providing some much needed comic relief for a film centred on heartbreak and finding yourself. The underrated film is one of Corden’s first American roles, and introduced both his comedic timing and love of music to a new audience.
INTO THE WOODS (2014)
The star-studded 2014 musical boasted a cast that included Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt and Anna Kendrick, but the movie was panned by critics. Still, it did give Corden yet another vehicle to show off his musical skills and it introduced the British entertainer to a wider North American audience.