James Corden recalls inviting Gene Wilder to his show — and his whimsical rejection email


The celebrity tributes for Gene Wilder, following his death at 83, continue to pour in, many of which recall his infectious joy and whimsical comedic nature. On Monday night's episode of The Late Late Show, host James Corden recalled his brief, but memorable, moment meeting Wilder while Corden was performing a play on Broadway. 

Corden and the rest of the Broadway cast were nervous when they found out the famed actor and comedian would be attending their show. Corden said:

He came backstage afterwards. If anyone else came backstage they'd stay for five, six, 10 minutes tops, but he sat in my room for half an hour. We sat on this couch, and I'll never forget it as long as I live. The thing I remember — I was thinking about it today — was 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? It was amazing.

The two exchanged emails after their meeting, which Corden kept in mind when he was pegged as the new host for The Late Late Show. For Corden's first sketch on the show, it involved a star-studded, Willy Wonka-esque parody in which the comedian won a "golden ticket" to host the show. 

As Corden explained, he had hoped to get a cameo from Wilder in the segment, but instead received a thoughtful rejection email that he shared with the audience. 


"Even the way he said no was so poetic," the host concluded. "Even his emails sounded somehow like Willy Wonka. He was just a magical person, and he made everybody around him feel this incredible feeling of joy. That's what I felt when I watched him, that's what I felt when I met him." 

Watch Corden's tribute to Wilder below.