James Corden on new movie The Prom, narcissism and Gavin and Stacey

Actor James Corden has opened up on filming with Meryl Streep in their latest film The Prom, narcissism, and whether we will see Smithy again any time soon in a Gavin and Stacey return.

The Prom is your second film with Meryl Streep. Are you best mates now?

I’m always just slightly thrown when I’m in her orbit, for all of the obvious reasons. We did several weeks of rehearsal before we started filming and that was a wonderful way to just ground everybody.

So when you turned up on set for the first day, you never really felt like, ‘Agh!’ It was more, ‘Oh, it’s all these people I’ve been with for six weeks now.’ And she’s just a master in how to be a human being.

She takes the work really, really seriously and doesn’t take herself seriously for a second, which means you can have great fun there all the time. She set the tone, really.

What are the turning points in your career?

There have been three people in my life that have informed almost everything I’ve done. The first was the director Shane Meadows, who I was lucky enough to do a film with called Twenty Four Seven [1997].

And he was about 26 and I only realise now what an impact that had on me, watching someone so young just take the reins of their own career. And then Mike Leigh on All Or Nothing [2002].

Because I’d never been to drama school or trained, I learned more in that six months of rehearsals than at any point earlier in my life. And the other one was working on The History Boys with Alan Bennett.

And Alan going, ‘Oh, you should try and write something.’ And I don’t know if that experience of writing Gavin & Stacey would have happened if it wasn’t for those three experiences.

Do you miss being on stage?

I miss it greatly, is the truth. I’ve only done one musical on stage, which is my sort of first real professional job, which was a musical called Martin Guerre, which was a disaster!

My entire dream was to just work in the West End. I had a great time. But I do miss being in plays very much and I think that’s why I had such a great time doing The Prom.

If you ask me, my dream scenario – if I had my choice, which I don’t, but if I did – then in a few years I would really love to go back and work in the theatre. It’s probably the happiest I’ve ever been at work.

Have you ever had moments of narcissism?

I don’t know. I don’t think I’m as narcissistic as perhaps I once was. I hope not!

I consider it a real achievement that I’m looking at you [my image in our Zoom chat] and not just looking at myself throughout all of this, which is a difficult thing for all of us not to do!

What do you think about celebrities endorsing good causes? Is it a good idea?

I think any good deed is a good deed. I think it’s really easy to be cynical about things today. I think criticism is the easiest thing in the world.

Having an idea is really difficult and anyone that has an idea that might want to help someone, however they end up in that place, I certainly would not be wanting to knock such a gesture.

What are your go-to Christmas films?

Home Alone is a masterpiece, I don’t care what anybody says. I think without Home Alone you don’t end up with Bond’s Skyfall. The last 20 minutes of Skyfall are basically Home Alone, if you go back and watch it!

So Home Alone, Miracle On 34th Street, Love Actually – although not a Christmas movie, it always brings the Christmas in my house. And also, I’ve got to say, When Harry Met Sally, which again I know is not a Christmas movie but the fundamental moments happen around that point. So they’re my films.

What about Crimbo music?

Go and have a listen to the album Funny Looking Angels by Smith And Burrows, which is Andy Burrows from Razorlight and Tom Smith from Editors.

They got together because they were so sick of hearing the same Christmas music. So you should listen to that. And Home For The Holidays by Tim Wheeler… there’s a whole raft of new Christmas music and it’s beautiful.

But there’s a song called When The Thames Froze on Funny Looking Angels that will light up this most dark of Christmases!

You left us on tenterhooks last Christmas Day with Gavin & Stacey. When will we see you again as Smithy?

I don’t know, is the answer. I honestly don’t. We’re all on a WhatsApp text group. All of us and Matt [Horne] and Jo [Page] did a special radio show for BBC Wales the other day that will go out on Christmas. And we all contributed to that somewhat. And we’re always talking, all of us, and Ruth [Jones] and I talk all the time.

I hope so much we do it. The next one will really be the last, final part. And that is a little too much pressure for my chest to take at the moment, if I’m honest, in amongst the anxiety of 2020.

If I had any notion of trying to make another Christmas special I don’t think I’d be able to breathe. So we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

But I promise you, we won’t lead you over that bridge unless we think it will be worth the journey.

The Prom is on Netflix from Friday.

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