James Corden has revealed how Tom Cruise persuaded him to fly in a fighter jet for a segment on The Late Late Show as he reflected on his “extraordinary” time hosting the US talk show.
The British actor and presenter appeared at the Royal Television Society Cambridge Conference on Thursday for what was billed as his first industry interview since returning to the UK after eight years helming the hit programme.
Corden admitted it was “very difficult” to walk away from the US show, which made him a household name in the country and saw him rub shoulders with Hollywood stars, but that he felt “compelled to come home”.
During his time on the show, Corden was involved in various high-octane stunts, including skydiving with Hollywood superstar Cruise.
Ahead of the release of Cruise’s blockbuster sequel Top Gun: Maverick, he was also flown upside down by the actor in a fighter jet.
Speaking at the RTS conference, Cordon revealed production was stopped on the Top Gun: Maverick set for two days to allow them to film the sketch, but days before he was due to fly with Cruise, he got cold feet.
“I just ended up going like ‘Look he’s an actor, he’s not a pilot, respectfully. It’s just the two of us in an aeroplane, if something happens, then we die,” he said.
“And worse than that, worse than my own death, is my children growing up in places and people going ‘You know who they are? Their dad killed Tom Cruise’.”
He said Cruise called him to ease his panic, recalling that the Top Gun star said: “‘James, your life is more valuable than mine… you are never in any danger’.”
Corden added: “Then what he said to me was ‘I would never do this if I wasn’t flying every day. I am flying every single day… You don’t have to worry. You have to just trust me. I’m so ready and I wouldn’t do this going in cold’.
“And then you’re like ‘all right I guess we’re going to do it’.”
Reflecting on the experience, he said: “What a thing to have done. If I look back on the show, I don’t even know if I can even now, because it was only at the end of April.
“But it is a source of overwhelming feeling and just thinking, I genuinely don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such memories, to deserve such things, and it’s really hard to walk away from, it’s a very difficult thing to leave but I felt compelled to come home.”
The presenter added that it would be “odd” not to miss the programme but that he and his wife had always known they wanted to return to the UK before their children became teenagers as they felt any later would be “unfair”.
At the beginning of the interview, the audience was shown a montage of clips from Corden’s time on The Late Late Show, including moments from his hit Carpool Karaoke segment. Over the years it featured a host of famous faces including Adele, Sir Paul McCartney and former US first lady Michelle Obama.
Afterwards, Corden said: “It’s been an extraordinary thing, like even watching that clip then you’re like ‘wow’. I will always be immensely proud of it.”