For as long as there have been stars, there has been the “a star is born” myth. In essence, it’s the romantic notion that folks like Beyonce, The Rock and others were born singing, dancing and delivering dramatic lines with arched eyebrows.
Although the notion that entertainers are born with their skills can belittle the countless hours of hard work and dedication that got them to the top of the heap, in some cases there can be some truth to it. For example, take a look at the fun flashback video above. Shared by BBC, it features a 17-year-old James Corden.
Two decades before he’d become one of the kings of late night, Corden already had many of the skills that would someday serve him well. Below, we break down Corden’s 1995 interview with Meatloaf — also known as the day a star was born.
“So James, do you like marmalade?” the rocker asks at the beginning of the segment, making teenage Corden laugh. Even more so now than in the days of Johnny Carson and David Letterman, a successful late night host has to be able to get his subjects loose enough to let their guard down and get silly. Clearly, Corden already had a knack for getting past the unnatural stiffness of an interview and guiding his subject off script.
Decades later, Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” segments would revolutionize the medium by getting guests off the couch and into a vehicle. In this interview, Corden spoke with Meatloaf in another unusual location, grabbing breakfast at an upscale hotel.
Such changes of venue not only hold the attention of the audience, but also typically get the guest to loosen up a bit. Even in his teenage years, Corden seemed to already know this.
Perhaps the most important (and underrated) skill of any interviewer isn’t the ability to ask questions, but the ability to take in and respond to the information they evoke. Although Corden does seem nervous at times, never once does he talk over his subject or ask a follow-up that is incongruous with the conversation. This is particularly true at the end, when Corden asks Meatloaf for advice with his band, and takes in the words of the rock legend.
“Never give up; never quit,” Meatloaf tells 1995 James Corden. Clearly, they were words that the 17-year-old took to heart. Take a look at one of his grown-up interviews below, and see how Corden still has that same mix of humor, charm and outside-the-box thinking — even if he isn’t still wearing a pirate shirt/vest ensemble.