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James Corden Pays Tribute to “Magical” Gene Wilder


John Lamparski/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) — On The Late Late Show Monday night, host James Corden shared some fond memories of Gene Wilder, who died Monday at 83 of complications from Alzheimer’s. Corden explained Wilder once came to visit him backstage after watching a play in which Corden performed in New York City. 

“It was incredible…If anyone else came backstage, they’d stay for five, six, maybe 10 minutes, tops. He sat in my room for a half an hour…I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life…And all he wanted to talk about was…How my wife and son were adjusting in New York, and was it happy and was it fun.”

Corden said the pair exchanged emails, and sometime later James asked Wilder to appear in the first episode of Corden’s chat show, in a sketch that had Corden scoring a Wonka-like Golden Ticket, which meant he got to host the show.  But Wilder politely declined, Corden explained. 

“In the history of people saying no to things, it couldn’t have been nicer,” Corden said, then shared the email, “It just said, ‘Dearest James: I don’t do, or go, where you were hoping, but I’ll be looking for you with my love,’ Gene.”

“Even the way he said no was so poetic — even his emails sounded somehow like Willy Wonka,” said Corden. “He was just this magical person.”

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