James Corden said he will ‘always consider it an absolute privilege’ to be a part of something Jez Butterworth has written – ‘however it gets received’.
Mammals is a six-part comedy drama written by the two-time Olivier and Tony Award-winning playwright Butterworth about the complexities of marriage.
Actor and comedian Corden, 44, said he read the script in ‘what felt like four minutes’ before deciding it was ‘everything I’ve ever wanted to do’.
In a twist or irony the star plays a trained chef, with the show airing just weeks after he was banned from top New York restaurant Balthazar for his apparent poor treatment of waiting staff.
Corden is believed to have snapped at restaurant employees after an egg yolk omelette prepared for his wife Julia – who is allergic to egg white – was unsatisfactory. He has since issued a public apology.
I’ll have what he isn’t having: James Corden plays a trained chef in new Jez Butterworth drama Mammals, a six-part series about the complexities of marriage
Speaking about his character Jamie Buckingham, Corden said: ‘He’s complex. He’s complicated. He’s flawed. He’s like all of us really. I really care deeply for him.
‘It’s funny, he’s the second Jamie I’ve ever played and both Jamie’s are probably the closest characters to myself I’ve ever played.’
Corden explained how he ‘fell in love’ with playwright Butterworth when they first met in 2019.
‘I’m an extraordinarily big fan of Jez’s work. I’ve been lucky enough to see almost all of his plays and they have had a profound effect on me,’ he said.
Hopeful: Two-time Oscar nominated actress Sally Hawkins, who plays Corden’s on-screen sister Lue in the series, said she hoped people are reminded of what a ‘phenomenal actor’ he is
‘I don’t really get starstruck by many people, but Jez might be the only person that I’ve ever gone up to and gone, ‘Hello, I’m James. It’s just an absolute honour to meet you’ and we got chatting.
‘I kind of fell in love with him, with his soul, spirit, his energy, and everything.
‘I just love Jez as a man and as a writer and from the minute I read it I just knew who he (Jamie) was. I knew it all and I thought, I have to do this…I just have to make this work.
‘I just love performing so much. I adore it…and so when an opportunity like this comes up, I just couldn’t pass it up.
‘However it gets received, there’s nothing we can really do about that. I’ll just always consider it an absolute privilege to be part of something that Jez has written.’
The Late Late Show host explained the difficulties of presenting a chat show while balancing a busy acting schedule.
‘I did this film The Prom a few years ago and that was really hard. I got given 12 shows off, which equates to about 16 or 18 days or whatever, to shoot, and then after that I was doing a show Monday, Tuesday, two shows Wednesday and then Thursday, Friday, Saturday on The Prom, and I did that for about six weeks.
tribute: ‘Knowing James for over 20 years we have already established a strong connection already. He is special kind of actor and mind,’ she said (pictured: In Mammals)
‘That was really hard, but I sort of feel a bit reticent complaining about it because I’m aware that it’s ridiculous that you would host a late-night talk show and be in a film with Meryl Streep.
‘And then be the lead in a Jez Butterworth dramedy on Amazon. I’m aware that it should be difficult.
‘I didn’t realize it would be quite as challenging as it had been because coronavirus didn’t exist when I signed up, we were all so naive.
‘Look, everything’s a challenge, but you want the challenge of it.’
Two-time Oscar nominated actress Sally Hawkins, who plays Corden’s on-screen sister Lue in the series, said she hoped people are reminded of what a ‘phenomenal actor’ he is.
She said: ‘Knowing James for over 20 years we have already established a strong connection already. He is special kind of actor and mind.
Statement: It comes after James admitted that he was ‘ungracious’ to a Balthazar waiter when he made a snide remark he’d cook the egg yolk omelet himself – which got him banned from the establishment
‘He can do all things seemingly effortless although I know full well it is incredibly difficult to have a foot in both worlds… ie in terms of his well known personae as a talk show host… yet he has a deep sensitivity and understanding.
‘He must have to split his brain and yet of course he copes exceptionally well. I don’t think he takes things too seriously or himself.
‘He is incredibly smart, an incredibly sensitive type of being. And it’s wonderful that some people will be seeing the creative actor genius side for the first time here with Mammals.’
She added that you ‘need’ people like James and Jez around who ‘ground’ you.
‘They’re solid, rooted to the earth, and that comes out in the writing. They are sort of similar actually, and really interesting, but I just love James very much. He’s a great friend and incredibly loyal. He forgives my madness,’ she added.
The series, directed by Stephanie Laing, also stars Merlin actor Colin Morgan as Corden’s on-screen brother-in-law and Greek American actress Melia Kreiling, who plays Corden’s wife.
Butterworth, who created the play Jerusalem, explained the creative process behind the Amazon Prime series.
‘I did what I always do, which is I put it in a drawer and got it out a lot later, five years later. Because I like to know if something’s going to be good in five years’ time.
‘It’s a way of time proofing things – to not write the thing that seems like a great idea that week, put it into production and discover five years later you’ve wasted your time.
‘I do that with plays and I like to do it with any idea that I generate,’ he said.
Corden’s new role comes after he made a public apology for berating staff at New York City restaurant Balthazar.
The comedian denied the restaurant’s version of events, insisting he did not ‘yell like crazy’ and claiming for the first time that the reason he was so upset is that his wife was given food she has ‘seriously allergic’ to.
Corden, appearing on his Late Late Show, conceded that he’d been ‘ungracious’ to the waitstaff at Balthazar, but tried again to explain himself.
Balthazar owner Keith McNally announced on Instagram that Corden was banned from the restaurant as punishment for rude and childish behavior on two occasions. On the first occasion, Corden was upset that a hair had been found in his food and demanded free drinks to make up for it, according to McNally.
The second occasion involved his wife Julia ordering an egg-yolk omelet and receiving a plate with egg white on it. The final straw was when the remade omelet was sent out with a side of home fries instead of salad.
Apology: Corden, appearing on his Late Late Show, conceded that he’d been ‘ungracious’ to the waitstaff at Balthazar, but tried again to explain himself
‘James Corden began yelling like crazy to the server,’ McNally said, quoting the general manager’s service report.
But on his show, Corden insisted he didn’t scream or make any ‘derogatory remarks’. His only offense was making the ‘unnecessary’ and ‘snide’ comment that he’d ‘make the omelet himself’ if the kitchen staff were unable to.
He also claimed the dish was prepared wrongly ‘three times’ – one more than had previously been claimed – and that his wife Julia has ‘a serious food allergy’.
‘My wife explained that she has a serious food allergy.
‘The meals came, my wife was given the food that she was allergic to. She hadn’t taken a bite of it or anything, no worries, we sent it back. All was good.
Family: Corden, looking at his parents Malcolm and Margaret who were in the audience, added: ‘As my dad pointed out to me on Saturday — he said, ‘Son, well, you did complain, so you might need to explain.’ Look, when you make a mistake, you’ve gotta take responsibility’
‘As her meal came wrong to the table the third time, in the heat of the moment I made a sarcastic rude comment about cooking it myself. It is a comment I deeply regret.
‘I worked shifts at restaurants for years, I have such respect for anyone who does that job.
‘The restaurant manager and the server were lovely, they brought out four glasses of champagne and we were like “that’s not necessary, we don’t need it, we had a great time”.
‘But here’s the truth of it – because I didn’t shout or scream , I didn’t get up out of my seat, I didn’t call anyone names or use derogatory language, I have been walking around thinking that I’ve not done anything wrong.
‘But I have, I made a rude comment.’
Restaurant: The popular French eatery Balthazar, in New York’s SoHo district, is pictured on Monday
It was the first time he’d offered that piece of information, despite giving an interview to The New York Times last week where he said he’d done nothing wrong.
Corden said he’d been shown the light by his father. His old adage was always to ‘never complain, never explain’.
‘As my dad pointed out to me on Saturday — he said, “Son, well, you did complain, so you might need to explain.’
‘Look, when you make a mistake, you’ve gotta take responsibility. So I thought I would, if it’s okay, share with you what happened.”
‘In the heat of the moment, I made a sarcastic rude comment about cooking it myself.
‘It is a comment I deeply regret. I understand the difficulties of being a server. I worked shifts at restaurants for years.
JAMES CORDEN VS BALTHAZAR – A TIMELINE OF A ROW THAT BEGAN OVER AN OMELET
June: James Corden visits Balthazar and finds a hair in his food. He showed the hair to the general manager and, according to Keith McNally, demanded free drinks to make up for it.
October 9th: Corden and his wife Julia have brunch at Balthazar.
Julia ordered an egg-yolk omelet. When it arrived at the table with ‘a little egg white’ on the plate, Corden sent it back.
The staff then sent out another omelet but with a side of home fries – not the salad Julia had ordered. Corden explodes that staff ‘can’t do their job!’ and offers to make the omelet himself.
October 17: Keith McNally bans Corden from his restaurant, calling him a ‘tiny cretin of a man’ in a scathing Instagram post
October 17: Corden privately phones McNally to apologize. McNally revokes the ban
October 20: Corden takes part in an interview with The New York Times where he says he did ‘nothing wrong’ and that people complain about food ‘every day’
October 21: McNally urges Corden to apologize sincerely, writing in another Instagram post: ‘Although I didn’t witness the incident, lots of my restaurant’s floor staff did. They had nothing to gain by lying. Corden did.
‘I wish James Corden would live up to his Almighty initials and come clean.’
October 24: James Corden apologizes on air at The Late Late Show
‘I have such respect, and I value anyone that does such a job. And the team at that restaurant are so great. That’s why I love it there.’
He added that when the staff brought out champagne ‘as an apology,’ he thought the matter was resolved.
The saga began when McNally, 71, posted two separate examples of Corden’s ‘extremely nasty’ behavior at Balthazar, the French brasserie, where he said he had yelled at the server.
Corden said that after seeing McNally’s post he had ‘immediately’ contacted him to ‘tell him how upset I was’.
‘(I told him) how upset I was that anybody was hurt by anything that I had done and anything that I had said and we had a good talk. He appreciated the call. I was happy that we got to clear the air. And I felt like we dealt with it privately … but by this point, the story was out there and more people were upset.’
After showing a series of scathing tweets to his audience, he continued: ‘I get it. I totally understand. I understand everybody getting upset and I accept everybody’s opinion.
‘I also hate, as I said to the owner that day, that I’ve ever upset anybody ever. It was never my intention. It just wasn’t. I love that restaurant. I love the staff there.
‘I hope I’m allowed in again one day so when I’m back in New York I can go there and apologize in person, which is something I will absolutely do.’
In his original post, McNally said: ‘After eating his main course, Corden showed the hair to Balthazar manager G. who was very apologetic.
‘Corden was extremely nasty to G, and said: ‘Get us another round of drinks this second. And also take care of all of our drinks so far. This way I write any nasty reviews in yelp or anything like that.”
In a second incident, McNally claims that Corden was dining with his wife, Julia Carey, at the eatery on October 9 for brunch.
He says that Corden asked for a table outside, and wife Carey ordered an egg yolk omelet with a salad.
The couple complained to the server that there was ‘a little bit of egg white mixed with the egg yolk’ and sent the dish back.
McNally added: ‘The kitchen remade the dish but unfortunately sent it with home fries instead of salad.
‘That’s when James Corden began yelling like crazy to the server: ‘You can’t do your job! You can’t do your job! Maybe I should go into the kitchen and cook the omelet myself!’
‘M.K (server) was very apologetic and brought G. (floor manager) over to the table.
‘He returned the dish, and after that, everything was fine. He gave them promo Champagne glasses to smooth things out.
‘G. said that Corden was pleasant to him but nasty to the server. M.K. was very shaken, but professional that she is, continued to finish her shift.’
Mammals launches worldwide on November 11 on Prime Video.
Claims: The comedian denied the restaurant’s version of events, insisting he did not ‘yell like crazy’ and claiming for the first time that the reason he was so upset is that his wife was given food she has ‘seriously allergic’ to (pictured with his wife Julia Carey)