James Corden’s super heartfelt Gene Wilder tribute is making us smile and cry at the same time

Yesterday we were heartbroken to hear that a beloved American comedy icon (and the true, original Willy Wonka) — Gene Wilder — had died. And we’re definitely not alone.


Last night the host of CBS’s The Late Late Show (and the mastermind behind Carpool Karaoke) James Corden gave an extremely touching tribute to the star. Corden recalled a time when he tried to recruit Wilder to appear in a Willy Wonka sketch for his show, and Wilder sent him a beautifully written email.

“Dearest James, I don’t do or go where you are hoping, but I’ll be looking for you. With my love, Gene.”

As Corden observes, “Even the way he said no was so poetic, even his emails sounded somehow like Willy Wonka.”

The two had already met years earlier, when Corden invited Wilder to come backstage after one of his Broadway shows. Corden described how people usually didn’t stay longer than five or ten minutes, but Wilder was different.

“He sat in my room for half an hour and we sat on this couch and I’ll never forget it as long as I live.” Apparently he expressed genuine interest in Corden and his family, who were then just adjusting to life in New York.


Okay if you haven’t mentally prepared for some tears, you need to start now.

“The truth of it is, he was just this magical person and he made everybody around him feel this incredible feeling of joy. It’s what I felt when I watched him. It’s what I felt when I met him. And that’s what I hope he’s feeling now, wherever he is. Thank you so much for everything you gave us, Gene Wilder. You are loved and you are going to be so dearly, dearly missed.”

You can watch Corden’s full tribute here.


We miss you, Gene Wilder!