British star James Corden has told how he felt “compelled” to come back to the UK after eight years hosting his hit US chat show – but says it was “very difficult” to walk away.
In his first interview since returning home, the actor and presenter also spoke about the phone call he received from Tom Cruise to calm his nerves ahead of a Top Gun stunt, and gave his thoughts on whether Gavin & Stacey should come back to TV screens after a “perfect” cliffhanger.
Corden was speaking at a Royal Television Society event, looking back at how he went from being a relatively unknown British star in the US, to a world-famous presenter who has now interviewed everyone from Paul McCartney and Justin Bieber to Michelle Obama and Prince Harry.
He said he would always be “immensely proud” of presenting The Late Late Show.
Corden said: “What a thing to have done. It is a source of overwhelming feeling and just thinking, I genuinely don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such memories, to deserve such things, and it’s really hard to walk away from, it’s a very difficult thing to leave, but I felt compelled to come home.”
In the weeks since he has been back, Corden said people have questioned why he would choose to be here rather than LA.
“Sometimes you want to shake people and go, I wish you could see it from a distance,” he said.
He added: “I wish you could see this island from a distance. It’s unbelievable. It’s amazing, the architecture and the people and the creativity and the things that we make, the size of the country versus its output is extraordinary.
“And I just felt compelled to come home and, you know, to just try and see if there might be one more thing that I can do, safe in the knowledge that there might not be.”
Corden told the audience that despite being “terrified” when he started on The Late Late Show, his aim was always to create a series that embraced the internet – something he did with segments such as Carpool Karaoke and Spill Your Guts, which often went viral.
Over the years, the show featured the likes of Kim Kardashian, Adele, One Direction, Stevie Wonder and Sir Elton John.
Asked by session host Boyd Hilton, the entertainment director of Heat magazine, about his time flying with Cruise, who is famous for doing his own stunts, ahead of the release of the Top Gun sequel, Corden said: “A few days before I had a genuine… I just ended up going like, look, he’s an actor, he’s not a pilot.
“Respectfully. It’s just the two of us in an aeroplane, if something happens… then we die. And worse than that, worse than my own death, is my children growing up and people going, you know who they are? Their dad killed Tom Cruise.
“And then Tom calls and goes, you know, ‘James. Your life is more valuable than mine.’
“He actually did make some salient points. What he said to me was, ‘I would never do this if I wasn’t flying every day. I am flying every single day… You don’t have to worry, you have to just trust me. And I wouldn’t do this going in cold.’
“And then you’re like, I guess we’re going to do it.”
Finally, Corden was also asked the question everyone wants an answer to: will we ever see more of Gavin & Stacey?
The 2019 Christmas special left viewers on a cliffhanger as Nessa, played by Ruth Jones, proposed to Corden’s Smithy – just before the credits rolled.
“I genuinely don’t know if we’ll ever do another one,” Corden said. “I think Ruth and I would love to make something together again… I really don’t know with Gavin & Stacey. I think we feel so proud of that last special…
“I think, in a way, those characters, they live on, they carry on, they’re still out there somewhere living and breathing.
“Their lives carry on and we just sort of get together and open this portal and find out.
“Some people say to me, ‘I want to know what happens’. And I go, so do I!
“I don’t know… Maybe there’s something really perfect about it ending there.
“Can we truly fulfil people’s ambitions for it? I know it’s such an annoying answer, I’m aware of that, but I don’t know.”