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Featured Image Credit: Netflix
The third and final series of the sitcom dropped on Netflix on Friday (14 January), prompting an outpouring of speculation about what the finale really meant (Gervais offers an explanation here).
However, it wasn't just the ending which got people speculating and sharing fan theories.
Over the course of the show, many viewers reached the conclusion that the character James must be inspired by Corden.
Beyond obviously sharing the same name, the character - played by Ethan Lawrence - also bears a striking resemblance with the actor and TV host.
Personality-wise there are also a lot of similarities: he's loud, theatrical and prone to attention-seeking.
Given all of these parallels - and the fact Gervais joked about Corden being a 'fat p***y' during his last Golden Globes monologue - many viewers were convinced it was no coincidence:
@RickyGervais taking the p**s out of James Corden is so clever.....pans him at the Golden Globes (Cats) but then his casting of a character in Afterlife called James, brilliant !!!— jonathan cramp (@jonathancramp) August 3, 2021
2 episodes in and I’ve already laughed and cried more times than I can remember over anything in a long long time. James “clearly Corden” is stealing the show at this point #AfterLife3 #AfterLife #RickyGervais #Gervais— Dave Bailey Comedian (@DaveBaileyComic) January 14, 2022
Will have to get on afterlife season 3 this weekend. Always curious to see what James Corden is up to in it, sorry I mean just James 😂 @rickygervais— Shaun Connick (@coolcuk) January 15, 2022
So great to see James Corden int After Life 3 #RickyGervais— Blackdoor Photography (@apmmarketing1) January 16, 2022
We put the theory to Gervais, and while he was tickled by the comparison, he insisted it wasn't intentional.
"Well, he was in it before I named him actually," the 60-year-old said.
"The answer is no. No, I didn't, no. I never thought of the... I just wanted them to have ordinary names.
"He had a little cameo in series one where he played the recorder, and I don't think I'd even named him then."
Everyone talking about James Corden, I just remembered this from Ricky Gervais’ Golden Globes monologue. pic.twitter.com/wJEOzRdEuR— H💫💼 (@f1rstclassfool) August 28, 2021
Fans of the show will recall that in one scene, James actually soils himself which will have done nothing but buttress the theory that the character was used as a vehicle to roast Corden.
However, Gervais made the point that this would be an extremely long-winded way of taking the p**s out of the 43-year-old.
He said: "That's a lot of work. To cast the whole thing, to film three years, to go, 'And when he s***s himself, it's James Corden.'"
So there you go folks, James is not based on James Corden. It's just a happy coincidence, apparently.