Photography by Steeve Beckouet. Stylist: Christopher Preston. Groomer: Donald McInnes. Shot at Freightliner's Farm, London. Tux by Tom Ford. Wellies by Hunter.
It's no surprise that James Corden's two best friends at school were gay. Like him, they learned quickly how to arm themselves from insult: by making the jokes first. "If you're big like me, you're either going to be bullied or not, and the way not to be is to be funny," says the actor, a 2012 Tony winner for his hilarious, frenetic turn in One Man, Two Guvnors, directed by Nicholas Hytner. It was Hytner who gave Corden his breakout role in the National Theatre production of The History Boys, recently voted Britain's favorite play (Hamlet was third), and a wellspring for new talent. Corden's fellow cast members included Dominic Cooper and Russell Tovey, but it was Corden who established himself as one of the U.K.'s most versatile performers, not least as the cocreator, cowriter, and costar of hit BBC sitcom Gavin & Stacy.
It was during his Broadway run in Guvnors that Corden squeezed in filming for Begin Again, a new romantic comedy-drama (in theaters June 27) from John Carney (Once) in which Keira Knightley and Adam Levine play lovers Gretta and Dave, who are navigating both New York and Dave's sudden fame as a musician. "I grew up wanting to shoot a film in Manhattan," says Corden. "If I could tell my 12-year-old self that I would be doing this play and then going to shoot scenes with Mark Ruffalo, my 12-year-old head would explode."
Corden is also working on a new HBO series, as well as prepping for another Broadway outing in 2015 -- but first we'll get to see him play the Baker in Rob Marshall's movie adaptation of Into the Woods (out this Christmas), in which he costars with Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp. "It was like nothing I've ever done before," says Corden. "just working with Meryl Streep, every day you think, This is the greatest thing in the world."
Somewhere, in a parallel universe, a 12-year-old's head just exploded again.
James Corden is also featured in Begin Again, which opens in theaters June 27.