A Timeline of 'Nice Guy' James Corden Being Not-So-Nice
The Late Late Show isn’t the only thing James Corden is leaving for good. This afternoon, legendary New York restauranteur Keith McNally wrote a 340-word Instagram post explaining why the British-born actor, comedian, and singer is no longer welcome at Balthazar, a lauded French brasserie in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan.
In explaining his decision to 86 the soon-to-be-former-host of The Late Late Show, McNally called Corden “a tiny Cretin of a man,” claiming the comedian to be “the most abusive customer to my Balthazar servers since the restaurant opened 25 years ago.” He went on to describe two separate instances in which the Carpool Karaoke creator unleashed his wrath on waitstaff over decidedly minor inconveniences, like his wife being served an egg yolk omelet containing the smallest smidgeon of egg-white.
Despite his outward appearance as an affable, amiable, and adaptable showman whose impressive 26-year career as an actor, comedian, singer, and television host has spanned two continents and won countless awards, rumors of James Corden’s dark side have been swirling around for over a decade — some of which Corden himself has substantiated.
Back in his native United Kingdom, Corden was the creator and star of a smash hit television series called Gavin & Stacey from 2007-2010. The program was a critical and commercial success. At the 2008 BAFTAs, it was nominated for — and won — two awards, the Audience Award, and Best Comedy Performance for Corden. But it was not nominated for Best Comedy Programme.
Corden wrote in his 2011 autobiography May I Have Your Attention Please? that he was haunted by an embarrassing moment during the acceptance of his second award of the night, writing, "We walked up to collect the award and, as we got on stage, I opened my gob. Instead of being gracious or delighting in the fact that we'd won a second BAFTA, I asked a question. … My question went: 'How can what is apparently the Best Comedy Performance and the Television Programme of the Year not even be nominated as a comedy?' Instead of applause, I was met with silence, shock and disbelief. Now, of course, I can see why and how it must have looked — ungracious, ungrateful and bratish.”
Brat is a word that’s used to describe Corden quite a bit — most often by the comedian himself. In a New Yorker profile published in 2020, Corden revisited such behavior during his meteoric rise in British television, saying, “I started to behave like a brat that I just don’t think I am. It’s so intoxicating, that first flush of fame. And I think it’s even more intoxicating if you’re not bred for it.” But while Corden has excused his rudeness, others — many, many others — have not.
After the infamous clash between Corden and Sir Patrick Stewart at the 2010 Glamour Awards, which made neither star look remotely dignified, the media started to turn on Corden — a 2011 Guardian profile said of his public image, “The consensus seems to be that the actor, comedy writer, co-creator of hit sitcom ‘Gavin and Stacey,’ presenter of sports gameshow ‘A League of Their Own,’ is arrogant and loud, his humour laddish and dated, that he has an unappealing, thespy air of entitlement. Also, most essentially, he's attention-seeking.”
Internet commenters have long reported incidents of alleged Corden misbehavior. In 2019, Corden did a Reddit AMA alongside his friend and producer Ben Winston to promote his increasingly popular “Carpool Karaoke” segment. The team managed to answer only three questions before the thread was hijacked by hordes of malcontent redditors who had apparently been waiting with bated breath for a chance to tell their story of run-ins with Corden.
The accusations ranged from stories of Corden mistreating production staff, to (now very believable) tales of him heartlessly degrading waiters, and to the very specific allegation that Corden attended a meeting of the Writers Guild of America with his executive producers and no members of his writing staff, only to advocate for lower wages for his writers “with the supposed justification being that it was so he could afford to hire writing assistants.” The last story originates from a since-deleted tweet from Jack Allison, a former late night writer, whose assertions Corden publicly rebuffed.
With Corden set to leave The Late Late Show in 2023, we're probably not going to get the best gossip until after the exit. However, a mogul like Keith McNally wouldn’t publicly demean an A-list patron unless they were the absolute worst restaurant guest imaginable. So when we do get to the good stuff, we expect it to be prime, savory, and deliciously juicy.