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James Corden has opened up about the incident at New York City's famed Balthazar restaurant that got him branded "a tiny cretin of a man" and "the most abusive customer" by owner Keith McNally — and why so many people seemingly love to hate him.
In a new interview with How to Build a Girl writer Caitlin Moran for the Times, Corden, 44, expressed his befuddlement at being called out, and briefly banned, by McNally for allegedly "yelling like crazy" at a server who got his wife's order of an egg yolk omelette wrong. (The British star also explains that "the reason I had to send the omelette back is because Jules [his wife, Julia Carey] is allergic to egg white," adding that Carey had told the server, "But don’t worry if you can’t manage it.")
"It’s been the most surreal moment,” Corden told Moran over text of "Egggate," which broke after their initial interview. “I mean, it’s so odd. I never screamed at anyone, I didn’t shout, didn’t call anyone a name or swear or use derogatory language. … How is it remotely a thing? And that be OK? And now it’s fact, and that’s that. When that person who posted the story wasn’t even there. Just so odd.”
Noting that he has "never talked about eggs this much,” Corden told Moran that some paparazzi were waiting outside his home to take photos of him because of the Balthazar brouhaha.
"People keep telling me, ‘This is the world we live in!’" he added. "And I don’t know if that’s right. I think it’s a world we’re actively creating, engaging in and encouraging. It’s scary. Really scary.”
Though Corden has won acclaim and a pile of awards (including a Tony) for his work both as an actor and writer, Moran pointed out that some appear to relish mocking the Gavin & Stacy co-creator. But Corden, who is due to step away from his CBS late-night show next year, maintains that he doesn't pay attention to the noise.
“Ah — I’ve just stopped reading it,” Corden told her. “I just won’t do it. I don’t Google myself, I don’t read anything about myself. I can remember when Keira Knightley was talking about the things that people used to write about her, and then she just realized, ‘Oh. I don’t have to read this. It’s nothing to do with me. I’ll just concentrate on the work.’”
He also noted that he only gets positive feedback from people he meets out and about.
“It’s weird, because I walk around London, New York, LA, and people are lovely, you know? ... People are so nice about what I do," the Cats star said, citing his experience cycling in London the day before. "I was cycling through this filter of just hearing my name, over and over — people shouting out, thumbs-up. Genuinely and honestly, I mainly only ever get positive stuff.”
But when pressed, Corden does acknowledge that he has been the subject of "pretty f***ing cruel" commentary that has gotten under his skin. One review in particular featured the line, "There are some — me included — who think James Corden would be much improved by being crushed into a more compact, cube-shaped version of James Corden. Where’s his head? Oh, I see, round there. Maybe the contents of his colon squeezed out of him. Hahaha. I’m not being fattist."
“It’s so long since I’ve read anything, but when I used to, a lot of it was from broadsheet journalists being … being pretty f***ing cruel," he said. "I remember a review of the show The Wrong Mans, which me and Matt [Baynton] wrote, and there was a critic who wrote, ‘Wouldn’t this have been better if James Corden had died?’ I’ll never forget it …”
“I know the things I’ve done that aren’t good — but that was good. And I remember thinking, how is nobody saying, ‘This is really quite awful to describe the wanton death of someone?'" he told Moran, who suspects that much of the vitriol is on account of Corden's size.
As for the Balthazar incident, Corden did end up making a mea culpa on last Monday's Late Late Show, telling viewers that he "made a sarcastic, rude comment about cooking [the omelette] myself. And it is a comment I deeply regret.”