Starring alongside Hollywood megastars Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp should have been all the proof James Corden needed that his career had hit dizzy new heights.
But his first thought on the set of his new film was that it had all been a terrible joke and the dream life he thought he was living was about to be snatched away.
“I spent the first week thinking I was going to be fired. I didn’t know if I was being Punk’d or something,” he says of his role in big-budget musical Into The Woods.
“To be in that company, to go to work every day with Meryl, it is just wonderful. It is incredible working with her.”
It’s a sign of just how much his life has changed in every way that even he struggles to believe quite how lucky he is.
James seems to be everywhere now. On television in the critically acclaimed comedy-drama The Wrong Mans. On the big screen very soon playing Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts in new movie One Chance. And as we speak it’s his afternoon off from filming Into The Woods with Streep and Depp.
There’s a guy on the crew of Into The Woods who is expecting his first child and he said to me, ‘Have you got any advice?’ I said, ‘Oh mate, you will meet a million people who will tell you they know exactly what to do. People line up to give you advice. The only thing I know is that no one ever sat in a therapist’s or a psychiatrist’s room saying: My parents just loved me too much.’
James, who this week presented a Pride of Britain award to heroic lollipop lady Karin Williams, agrees that the story of Paul Potts might not at first appear to be the stuff of the big screen. But in the hands of The Devil Wears Prada director David Frankel and his own assured performance it has been touted as the new Billy Elliot, charting how a bullied kid from Port Talbot, South Wales, dreamed of becoming an opera singer.
One thing Paul and James do have in common is a nervousness and lack of confidence which Corden says he hopes will never go away. That’s what left him feeling so insecure when he first walked on to the set of Into The Woods with such stellar co-stars.
He said: “On stage you have to have incredible confidence or you would stop doing it. But I don’t think I will ever get to the point where I go, ‘I know exactly what I am doing’ and I don’t think I want to.
“You have to keep questioning everything and realise nothing really matters and you have to carry on and be happy.”
For his role as the baker in the film musical, which includes classic fairy- tale stories, he does get to sing – something that didn’t happen playing Paul Potts. James said: “I thought for a while that I could sing so I said to the producers that with lessons I could do it. I was in New York, I had the lessons, and they came and listened and very quickly said, ‘Nah, you aren’t going to be singing.’
“I still had to learn all the songs and sing them – but then Paul would sing and synch with my lips.”