last night on late night

James Corden Shares a Surprisingly Sweet Memory of Gene Wilder Turning Down a Late Late Show Appearance

As Hollywood continues to mourn the loss of Gene Wilder, who died on Monday at 83, late night also took a moment to pay tribute to the legendary actor last night. On the Late Late Show, bandleader Reggie Watts called Wilder his inspiration for entering the world of comedy, while James Corden shared a touching memory of meeting Wilder once when Corden was starring in a play in New York. Wilder had been in the audience and asked to meet Corden backstage, generously spending 30 minutes with Corden just to see how he and his family were adjusting to New York. But the best story: The time Wilder turned down Corden’s request to appear in a Willy Wonka–themed sketch on his Late Late debut. “In the history of people saying no to things, it couldn’t have been nicer,” Corden remembers. Watch Corden read Wilder’s deeply sweet rejection email above.

James Corden Pays Tribute to Gene Wilder