The news of Gene Wilder’s death has left many in the world of comedy with feelings of shock and loss. Those who got to know the man have taken the opportunity to share memories of him, and now James Corden has joined that group.
Corden opened The Late Late Show by describing Wilder’s visit to a play Corden was in in New York. He explained that what struck him about Wilder wasn’t his comedy or his brilliance, it was his warmth as a human being. Most guests who saw the show would come backstage for ten minutes, tops. As Corden explains, “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.”
The topic of their discussion surprised Corden, as well. “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,” the host said.
Corden then goes on to explain that when Corden was planning his first Late Late Show, they decided to open with a Willy Wonka-themed sketch. When Corden reached out to Wilder and asked him to appear, Wilder said no, but in the most sincere way possible. In an email sent to Corden, Wilder wrote, “Dearest James, I don’t do or go where you were hoping, but I’ll be looking for you. With my love, Gene.”
As Corden puts it, “He was just this magical person, and he made everyone around him feel this incredible feeling of joy.” Check out Corden’s full tribute to Wilder above.