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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 294 > JAMES’S BOND

JAMES’S BOND

ACTOR, COMEDIAN AND TV PRESENTER JAMES CORDEN IS A STRAIGHT MAN WITH A SOLID — ALTHOUGH NOT SPOTLESS — RECORD AS AN LGBT+ ALLY. ATTITUDE TRAVELS TO HIS ADOPTED HOME OF LOS ANGELES, WHERE HE HOSTS THE LATE LATE SHOW, TO TEST HIS CREDENTIALS…
PHOTOGRAPHY: LEIGH KEILY // FASHION: JOSEPH KOCHARIAN

JAMES CORDEN

James wears blazer, James’s own, top by Gucci at MR PORTER, trousers and trainers, both by Gucci

James wears blazer by Gucci, polo by Gucci at Matches Fashion

James Corden bounces around our shoot like a newly unleashed puppy struggling to contain his enthusiasm. I’ve just introduced him to the cast of leather boys, bears, go-go dancers and drag queens who’ll be appearing alongside him in Attitude’s cover image and I’m explaining that the idea is to celebrate his role as a straight ally of the LGBT+ community. “I’m over the moon”, he says, grinning brightly. “I really am happy and it’s thrilling. Truly.”

As it happens, our supporting cast are also thrilled to be part of the shoot, although several of them seem overawed by James’s star power. Thanks to his role as host of CBS’ The Late Late Show, he’s now one of the most recognisable faces here in the US — and a major player in the entertainment industry. But it doesn’t take him long to put everyone at ease, picking up the party poppers that are scattered everywhere and making mischievous jokes about confusing them with another type of poppers.

He seems so relaxed that I can’t help asking whether this is the kind of company he keeps in real life. Has he ever been to a gay club? “Of course, oh my God, yes”, he says. “Although I haven’t been to the really serious ones.”

But then a twinkle appears in his eye as he remembers something. “My make-up artist at home, Donald McInnes, who is the most splendid and incredible man you could ever meet, said that after I did a shoot for Heat, dressed as David Beckham, with a bulge in my pants, the picture was projected on to a huge wall in [London bear club] XXL one weekend. He sent me a photo of it saying that I shouldn’t go there that night because I’d get eaten alive!”

The tone of the conversation is set and soon James is sharing anecdotes about snogging Russell Tovey on nights out in his twenties and Nick Grimshaw at a particularly eventful Brit Awards. But he’s quick to point out that, unlike other straight stars, he doesn’t think this makes him even a tiny bit gay — or any closer to understanding our experience or identity. The main outlet for James’s activity as a straight ally of the LGBT+ community is through his role as host of The Late Late Show. He assumed the role three years ago and to many was a surprise choice to front a show that’s an American institution. Although he was a household name in the UK after starring roles in Fat Friends and The History Boys, co-creating, writing and starring in hit comedies Gavin and Stacey and The Wrong Mans, and presenting Sky One’s sports panel show A League of Their Own, (not to mention hosting the Brit Awards for five years), he wasn’t as well known in the US.

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About Attitude

James Corden on the importance of being an LGBT+ ally. Plus, Celebrity Big Brother and Drag Race star Courtney Act, Queer Eye's Karamo Brown, and the shocking truth about LGBT homelessness.