Awkward, chubby, the son of a Bible salesman from Buckinghamshire, he’s perhaps the most unlikely A-lister of them all.
Yet, today, the glittering Los Angeles lifestyle of James Corden rivals that of any global megastar.
There’s the lavish mansion with its own spa. An enviable roll-call of Hollywood royalty on speed-dial, an automatic place on every red carpet – including Anna Wintour’s ultra-exclusive Met Gala.
Awkward, chubby, the son of a Bible salesman from Buckinghamshire, he’s perhaps the most unlikely A-lister of them all. Yet, today, the glittering Los Angeles lifestyle of James Corden rivals that of any global megastar
And now a rumoured £15 million deal to continue as the host of The Late, Late Show on US network CBS for the next four years. The world is, truly, at Corden’s feet (impeccably shod in Gucci trainers, naturally).
Back here in Britain, he is still known as Smithy, the tubby West Ham fan from Gavin And Stacey, the sitcom that made him a star.
Fans quickly fell in love with Corden’s approachable wit and cheeky boy-next-door charm – and anticipation is building for the recently announced Gavin And Stacey Christmas special.
James Corden’s Buckinghamshire childhood home is pictured above. Friends say Corden longs for a return to Britain. But can he tear himself away from the trappings of all that wealth and fame? Just look at what he’d be leaving behind…
No one is more surprised than 40-year-old Corden himself at his stratospheric success in the States, carefully guided by his savvy British wife Julia, an interior designer to stars including the Clooneys.
‘The James of today is very different to the one who arrived in LA in 2015,’ says a source close to him. ‘Back then he was just hoping his show wouldn’t be a total flop. Now he’s hosting dinner parties with A-listers.’
Friends say Corden longs for a return to Britain. But can he tear himself away from the trappings of all that wealth and fame?
Just look at what he’d be leaving behind…
Eight bathrooms and a panelled library
When he was still a jobbing actor, known mainly for his role in the Alan Bennett play The History Boys, Corden shared a flat above a London doughnut shop with Dominic Cooper (now star of hit TV show Preacher).
Corden joked that there was no furniture and only one piece of cutlery, a spatula, and that the fridge contained only ‘half a vitamin water and a Lindt chocolate bunny’.
Today, he shares a £7.3 million mansion in Brentwood, an upmarket LA suburb, with Julia and their three children – Max, eight, Carey, four, and Charlotte, 18 months.
There are five bedrooms, eight bathrooms and a pool, plus such typically Hollywood features as a wood-panelled library, cinema room and gym.
It also has its own spa and an office complete with high-tech film editing facilities.
While he stays in LA, Corden rents out the family’s £3 million London home in leafy Belsize Park for about £15,000 a month.
His neighbours in Brentwood –just a 20-minute drive from the CBS studios where his chat show is filmed – include Gwyneth Paltrow, Cindy Crawford, Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg.
‘The children are happy and healthy and love their circle of friends,’ says the source. ‘James is a devoted dad and spends a lot of time with the kids. His weekends are sacrosanct.
‘James knows none of this success would mean anything without Julia’s love and support. His family means everything to him.’
In driver’s seat for carpool spin-off
Corden’s rumoured £15 million deal to remain as host of The Late, Late Show for at least four more years would make him the highest-paid British television star abroad.
The success of the show has been largely down to Carpool Karaoke, the Emmy award-winning segment in which Corden drives around LA with stars that have included Paul McCartney, Madonna and Adele while they sing their biggest hits.
There are five bedrooms, eight bathrooms and a pool, plus such typically Hollywood features as a wood-panelled library, cinema room and gym. It also has its own spa and an office complete with high-tech film editing facilities
The idea was developed with his friend and co-producer Ben Winston, the son of fertility specialist Lord Winston, and the YouTube clips have been watched a staggering five billion times.
Savvy Corden has made a fortune selling the franchise for Carpool Karaoke to Apple Music, which plans now to turn it into a stand-alone series.
He is also still in demand for acting work, which has recently included voicing the character of Peter Rabbit in the latest film adaptation of the Beatrix Potter classic, and presenting gigs, such as the Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
Hollywood royalty- and the real thing
Prince Harry and Corden have been friends for some time and the star was invited to the prince’s Windsor wedding last year.
But the true strength of their relationship – and his astonishing rise in social standing – was shown when Corden was asked to compere the private evening reception.
Dressed as Henry VIII, he entertained 185 family members and friends at Frogmore House, cracking a string of risque jokes. He is even said to have judged a ‘dance-off’ between Prince Charles, William and Harry.
It is not known how Corden and Prince Harry met, but the entertainer was photographed on a night out with the Prince and David Beckham at the private Arts Club in Mayfair in December 2011.
Since relocating to the States, Corden has drawn other high-profile pals into his circle, including U2 frontman Bono and actor Sean Penn. Mary Poppins actress Emily Blunt and her American husband John Krasinski – one of Hollywood’s most popular power couples – are regular guests at his home.
There is, too, an unlikely friendship with Anna Wintour, the formidable British editor of American Vogue. They met after Anna saw Corden in the Broadway version of the play One Man, Two Guvnors in 2011 and sent him a card telling him she was his biggest fan. ‘Through her, he has met everyone,’ says the source.
Out on the town, Corden favours the luxurious Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood, where phone calls and photos are banned. Jennifer Aniston held her 50th birthday party there in February. Corden’s tipple? Don Julio 1492 tequila at £120 a bottle.
‘The best parties are at his house,’ says the source. ‘He’ll hire a team of private chefs and you never know who will be there, from the heads of TV networks to stars like Emily Blunt.’
Losing weight with trendy dance moves
He claims he’s addicted to bread and freely admits he’ll never be svelte. But the LA version of Corden is still more sculpted – and a full 6st closer to the Hollywood ideal – than the original Gavin And Stacey model.
He has described taking trendy PlyoJam classes, a dance/exercise hybrid popular with stars including Reese Witherspoon and Kate Hudson. Personal trainers whip him into shape in the privacy of his own home – and he’s even partial to renting out an entire gym.
His wife, Julia, loves the LA lifestyle and has tried to pass on her passion for fitness to her husband, who has attempted various healthy eating plans. ‘She encourages James,’ says the source. ‘They work out together a couple of times a week.
‘He’s fitter than before but pays to rent out an entire gym in Brentwood to train with a personal trainer because he doesn’t want anyone else to see him. He’s concerned about his weight, but he’s undisciplined.’
$100 tips handed to parking attendants
Free spending Corden has become known for his generosity.
‘One friend received over £1,000 of wine as a present,’ says someone from his circle. And he gives similarly extravagant gifts to those who perform well on his chat show.
The benevolence extends to serving staff, too.
‘He’ll start peeling off $100 bills to give as tips to valet parking guys,’ says the source.
A canny move, perhaps. Aside from the family run-around, a Range Rover, Corden drives a midnight-blue £200,000 Aston Martin Vanquish, which he changes every three months.
From St Tropez to Barbados…in style
Even when it’s time to relax, the Cordens can’t resist a bit of stardust, so it’s no surprise that their latest jaunt has taken them aboard a luxury yacht to Portofino, a celebrity playground on the Italian Riviera.
Husband and wife beamed with happiness as they were photographed walking around the famous coastal village.
It’s been a long European break and a luxurious one, so far: earlier this month they were spotted on the beach in St Tropez.
Mexico is another favourite haunt. Last summer, the couple celebrated Corden’s 40th birthday enjoying the delights of the Cabo San Lucas resort with celebrity friends including fashion stylist Rachel Zoe.
The family hit the beach with another sun-drenched festive getaway to Barbados in 2017, where Corden displayed his trimmer body in a series of garish bathing trunks.
Julia, 41, cut more of a dash with a parade of striking swimsuits including a slinky one-piece costing a mere £150 from Marysia.
Glamorous power behind the throne
Julia is said to have taken to their glamorous new LA lifestyle like a duck to water.
Who wouldn’t enjoy wearing top designers such as Tom Ford and Erdem, or showing off a £2,100 Dior bag, such as the one she was seen carrying in Portofino?
The two met in 2009 when Julia was an executive with Save The Children and Corden attended a fundraising event for the charity.
Julia went on to found her own interior design firm Charles & Co with best friend and former Soho House designer Vicky Charles.
‘Julia is the business brains behind the partnership and Vicky’s the creative force,’ said someone in their circle.
‘But it’s Julia who has all the celebrity connections. They did the nursery for George and Amal Clooney’s twins and they work with the Beckhams all the time.
‘Gwyneth Paltrow is one of Julia’s closest friends so they’ve worked on the design of pop-up stores for Goop, Gwyneth’s company.’
Julia, who married Corden in 2012, has embraced the Californian obsession with health and fitness:
‘She’s into Pilates, yoga, goes to the gym with a personal trainer, she is into a super healthy lifestyle,’ said the friend.
‘James is a work in progress. Sometimes he’s good on the health and fitness front but other times work gets in the way.
‘Julia makes her own money but James has given her a credit card and she’s got free rein to spend what she likes on the kids, the house and herself.’
Will he give it all up and come back home?
Corden is convinced it could all come crashing down and, when it emerged that Gavin And Stacey is to return for a Christmas special, the actor struck a sombre note. He is pictured during the filming of the Christmas special
Corden’s future seems assured. There are roles in upcoming films The Prom, a musical comedy starring Meryl Streep, Ariana Grande and Nicole Kidman, and a big-screen version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats alongside Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench and Taylor Swift.
But Corden is convinced it could all come crashing down and, when it emerged that Gavin And Stacey is to return for a Christmas special, the actor struck a sombre note.
‘Fear is the absolute reason to do it,’ he wrote on social media.‘This sounds ridiculously deep, but none of us are promised tomorrow. We’re here for a minute, so you have to try to do it all.’
Corden remains insecure about his talents, says an insider and, as he told a podcast earlier this month, returning to Britain is never far from his mind: ‘We’re a long way from home, my wife and me and our children, and there are people at home we miss deeply and we care about and they’re getting older.’
Those close to him say Corden remains driven to prove himself back home. ‘No matter how big he gets in the US, he knows his roots are always in Britain,’ says the source.
‘He has everything in terms of money and celebrity friends, but he wants this Gavin And Stacey special to be perfect. ‘He’s got it all right now. But he’s in turmoil.’