David Beckham Went To See A Statue Of Himself, But He Had No Idea That He Was About To Get Pranked

Image: YouTube/The Late Late Show with James Corden

There are few greater honors than being immortalized as a statue. However, when James Corden is involved, it’s a different story. Here’s a look at how the late-night talk show host pranked one of the U.K.’s most iconic sportsmen, David Beckham, at a grand unveiling which became the stuff of nightmares.

Image: via IMDb

James Corden first came to attention in his U.K. homeland in 1997 when he played Carl ‘Tonka’ Marsh in Shane Meadows’ gritty black and white debut, Twenty Four Seven. Two years later he appeared in boyband spoof Boyz Unlimited. And he continued to showcase his funny bones in the likes of 1970s-set comedy Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? and TV dramedy Fat Friends.

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Corden later got the chance to work with two of British drama’s most esteemed names. Firstly, he landed the role of Rory in Mike Leigh’s 2002 contemporary London tale All or Nothing. And two years later he won the role of Timms in the stage adaptation of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, which transferred to New York, Sydney and Hong Kong.

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Corden became a household name in 2007 thanks to the phenomenal success of Gavin and Stacey. Not only did he play best friend Smithy in the TV rom-com, but he also served as co-writer alongside Ruth Jones. Corden picked up gongs at both the British Comedy Awards and Television BAFTAs for his work on the show.

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Striking while the iron was hot, Corden also worked on several other projects during the show’s run. He featured in the big screen comedy How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, portrayed Clem Cattini in the story of music producer Joe Meek’s life, Telstar, and provided a voiceover for animation Planet 51. But Corden would soon suffer a backlash which threatened to derail his career.

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It seems Corden’s partnership with Gavin and Stacey co-star Matthew Horne was largely to blame. The pair were accused of becoming overexposed after they presented the BRIT Awards alongside Kylie Minogue, made the much-maligned horror comedy Lesbian Vampire Killers and created their own eponymous sketch show, all within the space of a year. The latter, in particular, was met with a hostile response from the press. And even Corden later admitted that he simply “wasn’t good enough.”

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Corden began to get his career back on track in 2010 thanks to several projects which mixed sports with comedy. He served as co-host of charity telethon Sport Relief and became the presenter of long-running panel/sports show A League of Their Own. He also scored a U.K. number one single with “Shout.” The single was cover of the Tears for Fears classic, recorded with rapper Dizzee Rascal for England’s 2010 World Cup campaign.

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The star also made a return to acting with a supporting role in 2010’s Gulliver’s Travels. A year later, he received rave reviews for his leading performance in stage comedy One Man, Two Guvnors. Following its West End run, the show moved to Broadway where Corden would pick up a coveted Tony Award for his efforts.

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In 2013, Corden once again pulled double duty as the writer and co-star of comedic thriller The Wrong Mans. A year later he got the chance to further showcase his singing abilities in the Hollywood adaptation of Into the Woods, playing the baker. The star then narrated Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot and added record industry satire Kill Your Friends to his filmography.

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Corden’s next move took everyone by surprise. Indeed, in early 2015 he was announced as Craig Ferguson’s replacement as the host of CBS’s The Late Late Show. Despite his relatively low profile in the United States, the Brit proved to be an inspired appointment. In fact, the show soon became the most talked-about on the late-night circuit.

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Indeed, Corden made quite the splash on his first ever show. Firstly, he managed to bag none other than Hollywood’s nicest guy, Tom Hanks, as his first celebrity guest. But, then, he also got a major scoop when another A-lister, Mila Kunis, confessed she had walked down the aisle with Ashton Kutcher.

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However, it’s the show’s range of skits that have transformed the way late-night talk shows are now consumed. Indeed, Corden was perhaps the first host of his kind to utilize the power of YouTube by producing the type of content that would instantly become viral. And the likes of Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers all soon followed suit.

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One of Corden’s most popular segments is “Drop the Mic,” a tongue-in-cheek MC battle which gives two famous names the chance to showcase their unlikely rap game. Others include “Take a Break,” where the host steps into the shoes of various different professionals, and “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts,” a slightly gross roundtable game of truth or dare. However, one particular skit took on a life of its own.

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Indeed, “Carpool Karaoke” has become nothing short of a global phenomenon. The segment sees Corden drive a musical guest around as they both belt out the artist’s biggest hits. The bit was, in fact, inspired by a 2011 Red Nose Day sketch in which Corden’s Gavin and Stacey character, Smithy, chauffeured George Michael around London while singing Wham! classic “I’m Your Man.”

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It’s almost easier to name the major music stars that haven’t occupied the passenger seat since “Carpool Karaoke” started. Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Bruno Mars and Mariah Carey are just a few of the artists who have joined in over the years. But the most popular performer proved to be Adele. In just five days, her appearance clocked up over 40 million views. All of which made it one of the late-night circuit’s biggest viral videos ever.

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In fact, “Carpool Karaoke” proved to be such a hit with viewers that it was given its own spin-off show. A primetime edition on CBS even picked up Outstanding Variety Special at the Emmy Awards in 2016. The Late Late Show with James Corden itself has also been recognized at the TV industry’s biggest night, receiving nominations for Outstanding Variety Talk Series on no less than three consecutive occasions.

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Corden may well have become a master of American TV’s late-night circuit. But that hasn’t stopped him being pranked by several guests on his own show. In 2015, he was briefly left horrified when Katie Couric appeared to fall down the stairs while making her entrance. However, the journalist had, in fact, used the services of a stuntwoman to pull off one heart-stopping April Fool’s Day joke.

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And then there was the time when U.K. national treasures Ant and Dec pranked Corden during the filming of his late-night show for their own Saturday Night Takeaway series. The heavily disguised duo pretended to be contestants for a game titled “Face Your Fiancé.” And once again, Corden was left believing that an on-air injury had occurred when a bookshelf fell on Ant’s character.

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Of course, Corden has also been known to prank the odd celebrity himself. In 2019 he decided to target David Beckham, the soccer icon he’d previously worked with on a parody of an underwear commercial. And the former L.A. Galaxy star sure was put through the wringer by the cheeky host.

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The drama began when Beckham was invited to a sneak peak of a statue built in his honor. The former England international had, in fact, previously attended several meetings about the monument. An official unveiling would then take place outside L.A. Galaxy’s stadium shortly after his preview. Of course, the statue that the footballer would first set eyes on wasn’t the real one. Instead, he saw a hideous replica which made the star look like an out of proportion gargoyle.

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Described by Corden as a “balance between realistic and absolutely terrible,” the statue in question was created by The Late Late Show’s props team. Not only did it give Beckham a very prominent chin, it also gave him squinty eyes, elongated arms and three teeth. And it made his rear end look like Kim Kardashian’s.

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The whole thing also evoked the unintentionally hilarious tribute to Beckham’s one-time teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese forward was also honored with a statue. His unveiling, though, took place at a ceremony to rename one of his homeland’s airports in 2017. But the statue looked so unlike the sports star that it’s not clear whether the artist responsible had ever actually laid eyes on him.

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At least Beckham can be grateful that, unlike Ronaldo, the monstrosity created in his honor was a joke. But for several uncomfortable minutes, the soccer ace really did believe that he’d been the victim of a crime against art. Indeed, Corden went to great lengths to ensure that sportsman had no doubts that the statue unveiling was real.

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The host even managed to book L.A. Galaxy’s home, the Dignity Health Sports Park, to stage the prank. Corden also kitted out the backstage area with multiple hidden cameras. And he got away with filming Beckham on a more intimate level by telling the star that an official camera crew for the team was following him around for an online video.

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And Corden didn’t stop there. The host and his team even hired a bunch of actors to pretend to be lifelong Beckham fans at the grand unveiling. He also cast another actor to portray the sculptor the sportsman had previously met for an extra touch of authenticity. Luckily, all of the host’s hard work paid off.

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The prank began as one particular fan walked up to introduce himself to the sportsman. The man in question instantly gets on Beckham’s wrong side when he references the incorrect Manchester-based team. He then continues to incur the wrath of the star by repeatedly calling him Dave, apparently one of his pet hates.

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The prank gathered more steam when officials then showed Beckham a highlights video that would accompany the official unveiling. The star was, no doubt, expecting to see some of his greatest goals and assists for both club and country. Instead, the montage included bad tackles, poorly taken free-kicks and even the odd red card.

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And then it was time for the big reveal. Hilariously, Beckham couldn’t hide his disappointment when the sheet came down to uncover the statue in all of its hideous glory. “It’s slightly different than it was when I saw it in Chicago,” uttered the shocked star. This understatement, of course, sent a watching Corden, hidden from view, into fits of laughter.

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Beckham’s previous enthusiasm at seeing his statue for the first time made his despairing reaction all the more amusing. But for that same reason, perhaps slightly more cruel, too. He had, in fact, told the camera team following him around, “You know, it’s a special moment that I’ll be able to share with friends [and] family. So, I’m excited.”

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The phoney sculptor tried to reassure Beckham about the statue’s artistic merit. He told the star, “I believe what I did here was try to capture you in motion.” Unsurprisingly, the soccer hero wasn’t having any of it, replying, “Yeah, but there was capturing me in motion but also making me… Look at my chin!”

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To Beckham’s credit, he initially tried to be as polite and courteous as it’s possible to be when you’ve just witnessed a monstrous statue of yourself for the first time. He told the sculptor, “I don’t want to offend you but this is such a big thing for me. It’s taken a year to get to this point.”

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The sportsman even tried to find a positive, acknowledging that the statue’s haircut wasn’t that bad. But understandably, he eventually decided that enough was enough. “There is no way that can go in front of the stadium,” a very frustrated Beckham told the fake sculptor, before adding, “It’s embarrassing.”

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And Beckham’s shock, disappointment and bafflement at his statue’s un-likeness became even more blatant when he began talking about his family. He said, “My wife’s coming over. It’s lucky my kids are not coming over. Because if my kids were to see this, I think they’d just cry, to be honest.”

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Just before Beckham was possibly about to get his lawyers on the case, he was put out of his misery. Indeed, Corden had also arranged for the statue to be accidentally destroyed by a wayward forklift truck during the end of the prank. A mightily relieved former footballer quipped, “You’ve probably done me a favor there.”

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Just seconds later, Corden raced out from behind the scenes and into shot. “Oh my God, what’s happened?” the host shouted to make his presence very clearly felt. After spotting his one-time fake underwear commercial co-star, Beckham instantly realized that he had been the victim of an elaborate prank.

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Thankfully, the sportsman took the joke in good fun, as intended. In fact, he later uploaded a teaser of the prank on his official Instagram account. The caption that accompanied the clip read, “One day I will have my revenge @j_corden @latelateshow, but thank you for making me laugh and almost cry.”

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The nine-minute clip soon racked up an astonishing 16 million views on YouTube. And the general consensus appeared to be that it was a masterclass in tomfoolery. One entertained viewer tweeted, “The David Beckham statue prank by James Corden is the funniest video I have seen in a long time.”

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Another commented, “This has to be one of my favorite bits that James Corden has ever done on the @latelateshow.” It even earned the seal of approval from Piers Morgan. The presenter told Good Morning Britain viewers that the stunt had him “crying with laughter.” However, the killjoy was less impressed with Beckham’s reaction.

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“It exposes just how vain [Beckham] is,” the divisive TV host added in typically uncharitable manner. “It’s fantastic. Watch Golden Balls realizing something is not as perfect as it should be. It’s the look of horror when Mr Perfect sees imperfection in himself. It’s the Beckham vanity laid bare.”

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Morgan then stuck the knife in further, adding “I’d love to see the outtakes. [Beckham] would have been going nuts and threatening to ruin that guy’s career.” However, for most of the clip’s 16 million viewers, the former footballer’s understandably crestfallen reaction proved that the sportsman worshipped by so many is indeed only human.

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