LOS ANGELES >> When James Corden takes his “The Late Late Show” to England, he does it up royally.
He’s yet to ask Queen Elizabeth to join him, but this week’s London-based shows include British and U.S. stars including Tom Hanks and Lily James and a pre-taped segment with former first lady Michelle Obama.
It’s the third year that Corden has traveled to his native city for the CBS show, and he refused to let the task of hosting last week’s Tony Awards interfere.
“We enjoy jumping headfirst into all of these things, and tired isn’t a good enough reason,” Corden said today, the start of a four-night run of shows from London’s historic Central Hall Westminster. He said he counts himself “incredibly lucky” to have such opportunities.
“I don’t want to look back and go, ‘Ah, I should have made the most of that and I didn’t because I was a little bit tired,’” Corden said.
Among the bits: A battle-of-the-sexes dodgeball match in which Obama teams with Melissa McCarthy, Allison Janney, Kate Hudson, Mila Kunis and Lena Waithe against Corden, Benedict Cumberbatch, Harry Styles, John Bradley and “Late Late Show” bandleader Reggie Watts.
One sketch has the host competing with Chris Hemsworth to see who would be the better restaurant employee, while “Dark Phoenix” cast members Jessica Chastain, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Sophie Turner join Corden for a double-decker bus tour of London.
Late-night show highlights can have a significant online afterlife, and Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” segment with Paul McCartney in his English hometown of Liverpool was a viral sensation last year.
This time around, the host is especially pleased with a new installment of his “Crosswalk: The Musical” fixture, this one featuring songs from “Les Misérables” and taped in Paris with the Arc de Triomphe as a background player.
“The whole idea of it is so silly, so stupid,” he said, happily. “However you think the Parisian residents might respond to such a thing is exactly how they did.”
Would that be turning up their noses?
“Exactly how you think they did,” Corden said. “It was glorious.”
This week’s guests besides Hanks include Ian McKellen, Gillian Anderson and Millie Bobby Brown, with musical acts Little Mix and Mumford & Sons.
Corden said he goes abroad with “The Late Late Show” to ensure the program is “always on the move, it’s always ambitious.”
He draws the line, however, at inviting her royal majesty.
“We would never demean her, as such, to ask,” he said.