Though it was a big hit across the pond, One Man Two Guvnors still seemed to come out of nowhere to become a critical hit on Broadway. Much of that praise centers on James Corden, who stars in the show, who spoke to the Los Angeles Times about how he feels about being Broadway’s latest funnyman after several years as a struggling actor.
For one thing, Corden can’t believe his own success. He points out, “I’m from the smallest town outside London. This really shouldn’t be happening to anyone from my town.”
Surprisingly, despite the rave reviews for Corden (he has been nominated for a Tony Award), he doesn’t see himself as a comedian. He says, “I don’t consider myself a comedian. I consider myself an actor who presently is in a comedy. Comedy is clearly something I enjoy hugely, but by the same token, there are other things I feel I’m capable of and would like to do.”
Though Corden has appeared in film, television, and on the stage, he admits that he doesn’t have a preference: it’s the material, not the medium. He explains, “The question isn’t film, TV or theater. You just want to do things that are good. I would rather be in a great play than a bad film. I’d rather be in a great TV series than a bad play. The truth is you never know if something’s going to be good or not. The point should not be whether it’s shot on film or shot on tape or if it’s on a stage. Mostly, it’s about the people you want to work with. That’s the thing for me. I’m more attracted to working with people than the genre in which it takes place or the medium in which it takes place.”
Although Corden doesn’t think that his size will hamper him from gaining success, (he says, “I don’t think my career will be any more hampered by the fact that I’m heavy than by the fact Brad Pitt is attractive”), he admits that when he was starring in the hit London production of The History Boys he was disappointed by the lack of other job offers he received in comparison to his co-stars. He reveals, “They were all being seen for films and TV shows. I wouldn’t get the whole script. I would just get three pages, and the part they would want to see me for is the guy who drops off the TV to Hugh Grant in a film. It can be quite saddening. I felt like I was being told, ‘No, no, this is what you do. These are the parts you play. This is what stars look like, and you are not welcome to our group right now.’ So I thought, ‘Well, then I have to do something myself.’ I was lucky enough that I had a great friend and writer and actress in Ruth Jones. We wrote Gavin & Stacey, and it changed both of our lives.”
But with his continuing success in the present Corden has not had to deal with a lack of roles but with keeping himself balanced. He says, “You just get to switch off from it all. Having time to switch off from work means that when you go back to work, you’re immediately fresher and more excited about starting again. Whereas if I did the show, went out and had loads of drinks and then came back and thought about the show and thought about how I could improve it and fell asleep, woke up, and thought about more things it would just become a bit of a mess.”
One Man, Two Guvnors runs at the Music Box Theatre through September 2