James Corden Remembers Gene Wilder – and the Time the 'Willy Wonka' Icon Nicely Rejected Him

The Late Late Show host remembered the time Gene Wilder rejected him in an email.

Photo: Art Streiber/CBS

As fans and colleagues alike continue to mourn the death of Gene Wilder at age 83, Late Late Show host James Corden commemorated the icon on his show.

Corden shared a sweet story of Wilder going backstage to speak to him after he went to see Corden in a play and how they spent half an hour talking about life.

“He sat in my room for half an hour, I’ll never forget it as long as I live,” Corden said. “All he wanted to talk about was how my wife and son were adjusting in New York. It was amazing.”

The host remembers the moment being special because Wilder was genuinely interested in his life and spent more time than he expected with him.

After exchanging emails that night, Corden reached out to the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory star to see if he wanted to be a part of Wonka-themed sketch for his first show.

And his rejection email showed the remarkable person that he was.

“He sent me an email back where, in the history of people saying no to things, it couldn’t have been nicer,” Corden remarked in disbelief.

He then read the email to the audience: “Dearest James, I don’t do or go where you are 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,” Corden added after reading the email. “The truth of it is that he was this magical person and he made everybody around him feel this incredible feeling of joy.”

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