By Dan Snierson
March 22, 2016 at 06:06 PM EDT

Sure, James Corden is a very familiar name around CBS these days — he is also called: He Who Blows Up the Internet on a Regular Basis — but just one year ago, that wasn’t the case. As he prepared to replace Craig Ferguson as host of The Late Late Show, the Tony-winning British actor/writer (with credits including Into the Woods, Gavin & Stacey, and Doctor Who) was far from a household name in the States, and he knew that he had some wooing to do. In this week’s issue of EW, the Carpool Karaoke King reflected on his colorful first year on the job, which brought him within singing-and-acting distance of myraid A-list celebrities, hundreds of millions of laughs in the form of YouTube views, and a fairly humbling anecdote about trying to build name recognition — even at the security kiosk of your own place of employment. 

“Initially we couldn’t get any guests to come on the show, which I completely understood,” he writes. “There’s no room for ego in those moments, so I took about 10 meetings, driving all around L.A. to sit with publicists to try to convince them that this was a show that wanted its guests to shine, that it would be a safe environment, that sharing the couch with other stars wasn’t a bad thing, that Betty White could be on the same couch with Amar’e Stoudemire. We went to this big publicist with big clients, and I said, ‘I promise it’s going to be great.’ Then I drove back to CBS, hoping that people would start to know who I was. I didn’t have my pass, and security wouldn’t let me in the building. I was like, ‘I’m the host of a show.’ They were like, ‘What show is that?’ I was like, ‘The Late Late Show With James Corden.’ They were like, ‘Who are you?’ I was like, ‘James Corden.’ They were like, ‘Is there anyone you can ring in the office that can come down and verify that you’re here?’ That’s what we were up against.” 

Corden was guided by a simple philosophy as he prepared to launch his late-night talk show last March. “Anything that feels like a weakness, we’ve got to turn it into a strength,” he told EW. “There’s fun to be had here.” And fun Corden would have with this bit to promote the premiere of The Late Late Show, which winked at the challenge to build his brand — or at least just be able to get by security and back to work. 

To read much more from James Corden — including how he set out to make a different kind of late-night talk show and how he has one idea for his opening monologue that could blow you (or him) away — pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now, or buy it here – and subscribe now for exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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