James Corden Shares Tearful Goodbye to ‘Late Late Show’ With Help From Harry Styles, Joe Biden, Tom Cruise
James Corden has said goodbye to the Late Late Show — and he did so with a bang. On Thursday night, Corden hosted the final iteration of his beloved show, welcoming guests Harry Styles and Will Ferrell in person, and featuring Tom Cruise in a prefilmed segment.
“I sit here now today with nothing but love, gratitude, and pride. This show is everything I ever wanted,” Corden said during a farewell before sharing a tearful thank you to every member of the show’s team.
Corden reflected on moving to the U.S. for the show and the changes he’s seen in the States since coming here — from the Trump administration to the pandemic — and how he hopes the country returns to a more optimistic place.
“I’ve watched divisions grow. I’ve felt a sense of negativity bubble and boil over, and I implore you to remember what America signifies to the rest of the world: It has always been a place of optimism and joy. Yes, it has flaws. So many. But show me a country that doesn’t,” he said.
“Just because somebody disagrees with you, it doesn’t make them bad or evil. We are all more the same than we are different,” he added. “There are so many people who are trying to stoke those differences, and we have to try our best to look for the light. Look for the joy, because it’s out there.”
Among the show’s highlights were a surprise appearance from President Joe Biden, a piano performance from Corden backed by an orchestra, and Styles teasing the possibilities of a One Direction reunion during a final “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts.“
“Yes or no, will there be a One Direction reunion? Will it ever happen?” said Styles, reading the question. “I fear that it’s not a yes or no question. I think I would never say never to that. If there was a time when we wanted to do it, I don’t see why we wouldn’t.”
To kick off the two-hour show, Corden joked that he had a change of heart. “I’m backpedaling. We have to find a way to get Adele back in the car,” Corden said. “If I ask anyone to get in my car after work, it’ll be legally considered a kidnapping!”
Corden explained that following the episode’s airing, CBS would start to dismantle the set he’s used for the last eight years, and that it “felt strange” to drive to work for the last time.
A co-host added that Dancing With the Stars filmed on the same lot, and that he might be back as a contestant. “Me, Rudy Giuliani, Tucker Carlson,” he said. “Me and Tucker Carlson do the cha-cha.”
In a prerecorded segment with Cruise, Corden convinced the Top Gun: Maverick actor to join forces with him for roles in The Lion King. After some persuading, the two are then seen practicing using puppets. “Did you order the code red?” said Cruise holding a bird puppet (and with a silly voice), referring to his A Few Good Men line. “I’m getting pretty excited about this … but I have a problem: I think I’m stuck in a bird voice.”
The duo then joined the real-life production, and performed as Timone and Pumbaa, singing along to “Hakuna Matata” in front of a surprised crowd. The segment ended with Cruise and Corden getting into a heated conversation about the end of their friendship.
“You don’t have to pretend anymore, Tom.… You’re a big movie star and you’re gonna have more projects to promote. And when that happens, you’re just going to find yourself another late-night host,” Corden told the actor. “Tell me I’m wrong! When Mission Impossible 12 comes out, you’re not going to think of me. You’re gonna be off base-jumping with Bowen Yang.”
“And whose fault is that? I’m not the one turning my back on everything that we’ve created,” Cruise responded. “This is your last show. You did this to us!”
Then, in true Late Late Show fashion, Corden and Cruise sang a dramatic duet to the tune of Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” before embracing on a helipad.
The episode then transitioned into the second hour of the show, which started with Corden being stuck in a staircase at the CBS lot. There, Ferrell and Styles stopped by while the host was trapped. “Terrible timing for this door thing, because it’s your last show,” joked Styles. “What are the chances? What an absolute disaster.”
Later on, Biden joined in the farewell, and tuned in from the White House. “After a day working for me at the White House, I’m surprised you lasted eight years in any show,” Biden said in the clip. “Thank you for all the joy you brought to shows across America. And a special thanks for never asking me to sing in a car, because I can’t sing. We’ll miss you, pal.”
The show also aired a skit with late-night TV hosts Seth Myers, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and even David Letterman, who showed up in Corden’s bedroom during a dream. They insisted on him keeping their hosting secrets and stealing Carpool Karaoke for their own shows. Kimmel joked, “We didn’t want to do this, but we’re gonna have to revoke your invitation to the Met Gala.” The skit also imaged Corden on The Masked Singer alongside Trevor Noah, who left his hosting gig at The Daily Show in December.
As for the show’s guests, Styles kissed Corden’s father on the head, and Ferrell joined in with a sledgehammer to destroy Corden’s on-set desk. Styles then spoke about the Grammy night earlier this year, addressing the performance mishap.
“When we first finished, I was like, ‘I’m so angry this happened.’ And then I thought the only thing that’s gonna happen is I’m gonna shout at someone and it’ll still be the same,” Styles said. “And then they’ll think I’m a dick.”
Styles also showed off the “Late Late” arm tattoo he got when he visited with One Direction, and reminisced about his visits on the show. “I got hit in the nuts by Michelle Obama,” he remembered.
The show ended with Corden performing a goodbye song on piano, backed by an orchestra, and thanking the crew before giving one last bow: “We filled it with thousands of moments of joy, and now they won’t be anymore,” he sang. “I know as I look in the camera, for the very last time as your host, that each of those thousands of moments of joy, this is the one I’ll remember the most.”
Corden’s final episode wraps a star-studded goodbye week for the Late Late Show.
The farewell episode also aired a previously released “Carpool Karaoke” with Adele in an emotional last moment of the segment. Between renditions of Adele’s hits, the singer explained how she wrote “I Drink Wine” after a six-hour conversation with the host. “I remember I sang it into my phone and I sent it to you,” Adele said during the drive. “And I do remember you saying, ‘That’s exactly how I was feeling.’”
Amid tears, Corden also confessed to Adele that he’d “miss everything” about the show. “I’m really gonna miss Los Angeles. I love it here. It’s been a brilliant adventure,” he said. “But I’m just so certain that it’s time for us as a family, with people getting older and people that we miss, it’s time to go home.”
On Tuesday night, Billie Eilish joined the show to reminisce about her TV debut on the late-night broadcast six years prior. “I remember you came to meet us in the room, and I remember it was like the first celebrity I’d ever been up close to,” Eilish said. “It was amazing. I was just on 10 all day.”
Thursday’s episode marked an official end to the Late Late Show as a whole, which has aired on CBS since 1995. Tom Snyder served as the show’s first host for 777 episodes through 1999, Craig Kilborn replaced him through 2004, and then Craig Ferguson took on hosting duties for a whooping 2,058 episodes from 2005 to 2014.
Corden joined the Late Late Show in its fourth iteration in March 2015. He hosted the show for a total of nine seasons, airing nearly 1,200 episodes.
He was best known for several recurring segments, including “Crosswalk the Musical” where guests would do flash-mob performances in the middle of the street, “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts” where guests would decide to answer controversial questions or eat a disgusting food, and of course, his beloved “Carpool Karaoke” segment.
“Carpool Karaoke” became such a hit that it even spawned an Apple Music spinoff, and a prime-time special of the segment earned the show a Creative Arts Emmy. Among the “Karaoke” segment guests were Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, One Direction, Michelle Obama, Britney Spears, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, BTS, Bad Bunny, and Ed Sheeran.
Last April, Corden announced the end of the show, saying he always planned for his hosting gig to be “a journey, an adventure” and not “my final destination.”
“We are going to go out with a bang,” he said at the time.
Deadline reported that Late Late Show will be replaced by a revival of @midnight, which stopped airing in 2017, with Stephen Colbert serving as an executive producer.