Matt Willis as Nick in the hit West End musical Footloose was a total triumph! And now the former Busted star is touring around the country, appearing as moody teenager Chuck, in the stage adaptation of the film which made Kevin Bacon a star.
In an revealing interview Matt gives me the truth on that rumoured Busted reunion and talks all about love with wife Emma and baby Isabelle.
The 1984 film – starring Kevin Bacon in the lead role – is iconic. Had you seen it before taking on the role?
No I hadn’t but I decided to watch it to see what my guy was like. I didn’t know whether or not I should but I’ll obviously be playing the character a bit different. I had to have to have a sneaky look! I actually watched it with Emma because she fucking loves it and was like, ‘Oh please play the Kevin Bacon part’. I was like: ‘Are you kidding? I can’t dance for shit!’ That’s such a difficult part because he doesn’t stop dancing. The guy playing Rev is amazing and has a voice to die for. He is about 19-years-old so is making me feel very old at the minute. It was very weird as I’d never really felt old before!
Tell me more about the show…
We have got eight shows a week so it’s a pretty full-on big tour. When I got the part I thought the last thing I needed to do was go on tour as I don’t really get to see Emma or Isabelle enough. The idea of going away for five months was just not an option but I really wanted to play a totally different guy to the one I’ve just done in Flashdance. My character in Flashdance was quite a nice nerdy guy – so quite like me – but this guy is an absolute bastard. It’s quite hard to play a bastard actually. I wanted to take on some more challenging roles so it was perfect.
Are Emma and Isabelle going to come and visit you?
Yeah they are going to come up to different parts of the country with me. I’ve got a motorbike so if I want to whizz back for the night I can.
It must be hard to keep the romance alive when you spend so much time away from home. What are your tricks?
We really enjoy our Sunday’s because I always have Sunday off. We always try and make plans but when it comes to Sunday all we want to do is stay at home and relax! At the moment it’s hard but we’re booking a romantic holiday to Dubai for a week in April. So I’ll come off tour and be at home for a week with Emma and Isabelle and then Isabelle will be at her nan’s for a week while we go off to chill in the sun.
In July you and Emma will have been married for two years. Do you have any plans to renew your vows?
I don’t think we’ll be renewing vows for a little bit but we will do one day. As soon as the day was over, Emma wanted it to happen again. It’s one of those things where you look forward to getting married for so long and then it’s over. Women look forward to their wedding day so much and they only get to wear the dress once. How good would it be if you had a guilty pleasures-style wedding disco where everyone comes in their wedding dresses and suits? It would be a bit weird to have 500 brides in one room. Actually, I think it would be a nightmare.
When projects have you got in the pipeline for when Footloose comes to an end in March?
I’m not planning anything and I’m not taking on any more work for a while. I haven’t been at home for about eight months because I’ve been non-stop so I need a bit of family time. I’ve got a band that me and my mate are doing and we want to do a record. I’m just going to take time out and that’s why I’ve taken this job. It gives me enough money to pay the mortgage for a few months and if I don’t have to work then I won’t and I’ll just focus on making a record with my mate. We’re going to make a band and have a bit of a laugh and see where it goes. This is just a bit of fluff and we have no aspirations to be the biggest band in the UK or anything. For us it’s all about having fun and playing a couple of little rock shows.
Now what’s the truth on a Busted reunion because rumours of one are always popping up?
There’s always rumours and if I’m honest we thought about it two years ago. James and I sat down and said we would get the band back together and we both got really excited about it. But unfortunately the band belongs to three people and we each own one third of the name. Charlie did not want to do it and made it very clear that he would stand in our way. So unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to do it. Now, if we wanted to, we could possibly buy it off of him if we came up with enough money. I want to look at it as an amazing part of my life and I always want to look back on it with fond memories so I think sometimes things are better left as they were. For a little period of time it was really horrible so I don’t want to have to go through that again. I definitely think that Busted will never be a band again, unfortunately. Also I think there was a time and a place and now we wouldn’t be able to do it with the same conviction when we were 17 years old. Going on stage and singing about the Year 3000 doesn’t really hit home with me anymore.
And what do you think about Emma being hotly tipped to take over Konnie Huq’s presenting duties on The Xtra Factor?
I think Emma would be up for it if she was offered it and I think she would be fucking perfect for it. Emma loves The X Factor so she would be perfect. I get a bit jealous when X Factor’s on because all she talks about is Simon Cowell. I’m like: ‘All right love, I get the fucking message – you like the man!’
Footloose tours the UK from January 21 until July 30. Check out www.footloosethemusical.co.uk for details.
Pic: Eric Richmond