Stel­lar Q &A ROB­BIE WIL­LIAMS

Singer “De­pres­sion is less of a stigma now. Ten years ago it was a case of, ‘Get on with it!’”

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Joe Hildebrand - In­ter­view by CAMERON ADAMS

You’ve said “42 is 1042” in pop-star years. Yet you owned up to hav­ing arthri­tis... I’ve got a bit of arthri­tis in my back, some­times it’s painful. It’s all right; I’ll go on tour, I’ll dance about. I had a foot­ball pitch in LA and I never warmed up and we played on hard sur­faces. Maybe it’s some­thing to do with that. I sup­pose yoga and Pi­lates would help, but I don’t do a lot that helps me out! You’ve ad­mit­ted to us­ing Bo­tox and strug­gling with how you look and per­ceive your­self. Are you more com­fort­able with it at 42?

The

ob­vi­ous an­swer is no. I was so happy when a psy­chol­o­gist told me I was body dys­mor­phic. I thought, “Yes! I’m not f*ck­ing fat! It’s in my mind.” There’s a per­verse joy in find­ing out I had a men­tal ill­ness re­volv­ing around how I look. How do you keep the weight off? I’m still try­ing to find some­thing that suits me. I’m com­bat­ing a bi­o­log­i­cal need to eat a lot of stuff, and it’s hard. It’s a daily thing and I haven’t got it quite right yet. But I’ve got it way more right than I ever have. You were one of the first pop stars to open up about anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion. It’s less of a stigma now. That helps. Ten years ago it was a case of, “What’s that per­son got to be de­pressed about? Get on with it!” Which iso­lates you, too. It wasn’t un­til I moved to Amer­ica, and they had ad­verts on the telly for de­pres­sion, [that I] saw it was nor­malised. See, it is a thing, you wankers! It’s like hav­ing a cold or any other ail­ment. If I get enough food or sleep, I’m good. If I don’t, I’m not. Do you still get anx­ious go­ing on­stage?

I take the re­spon­si­bil­ity of be­ing a con­duit for a good time for peo­ple re­ally se­ri­ously. My real sense of be­ing is I’m ago­ra­pho­bic; I’m in my bed­room and I don’t leave. So, the set­ting of be­ing on­stage is un­nat­u­ral for me. But when the com­mu­nion be­tween the two of us is there, it’s more than a re­li­gious ex­pe­ri­ence – there aren’t words for it. When it isn’t and I’m do­ing it my­self, it’s trau­matic, but it’s my job.

Your job in­volves trauma? Yep. When I come and do TV in Aus­tralia, I’ll be en­ter­tain­ing be­cause of the trauma it pro­duces for me at the time. I do my job. My job is the best job in the world. But it causes me trauma. Are you at the point where you can see how good you are at your job? Not re­ally. I’m not in the place where I al­low my­self to have that truth. I don’t know if I’ll ever be in that place. That sounds very LA ther­apy-speak. Ther­apy-speak is my speak. Es­pe­cially when you’ve had to con­front some­thing that’s de­bil­i­tat­ing and de­rail­ing your en­joy­ment of life. It’s prob­a­bly the same as go­ing to uni to learn ac­coun­tancy when you want to be an accountant. I want a mind that works in my favour, and the ther­a­pists are the ac­coun­tants. Is there a pos­i­tive to these neg­a­tive feel­ings? The neu­ro­sis and the hard time I give my­self pro­pels me for­ward in my ca­reer. That’s why I’m still here.

Your wife, ac­tor Ayda Field, has talked about your celebrity exes on TV. That’s an un­der­stand­ing part­ner. She’s got that comedic sense of be­ing in­cred­i­bly hon­est for hu­mour and find­ing the hu­mour in any­thing. She’s just unique. I can point at the TV screen and say, “Her”, and she knows it means I’ve slept with her. [Ayda] doesn’t have that re­flex that makes her feel bad about her­self. She’ll just go, “Her? Re­ally? Was she fit in the ’90s?” and then I have to Google what they looked like in the ’90s. Why I’m in love with my wife is that she’s a beauty, but her dys­func­tion is beau­ti­ful, too. It’s that Leonard Cohen thing: you have to be cracked for the light to come in. Where she’s cracked, there’s a beauty there and we dove­tail. We share the same sense of hu­mour, which is so good. That al­lows me so much room in in­ter­views, where I can say sh*t other peo­ple can’t say. Like about sleep­ing with four out of the five Spice Girls? I in­tro­duced [Take That’s] “Back for Good” and said, “I’m very for­tu­nate, I’m the only per­son in the world who can say I’ve been in Take That and four out of the five Spice Girls.” It got a laugh. [I] later re­gret­ted it be­cause it has fol­lowed me. For mis­chief, I em­bel­lish it. Rightly so, boyfriends and hus­bands aren’t happy about that, and I un­der­stand that and I re­gret that. It’s just me be­ing a frus­trated co­me­dian. What’s the truth? It’s not four. Make of that what you will. It’s un­fair on the girls, we’re all older now, we’ve all got chil­dren; the joke’s not funny anymore. Which ones did I ac­tu­ally sleep with? I’m not telling. I’m not a so­ciopath. When I’ve said some­thing that hurts some­body, I feel re­ally bad about it. Al­though there’s an en­ergy around say­ing some­thing that is funny that’s ad­dic­tive, the en­ergy of re­gret­ting say­ing it is worse. You’re mates with Adele. How’s she cop­ing with fame? Adele’s way more to­gether than I was at her age. I’ve spent a bit of time with Harry Styles; he’s way more to­gether than I ever was. And so it is. It’s not a one-size-fits-all, fame. It does dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple. I’ve got a rag­ing ad­dic­tive per­son­al­ity. Do you see a part of your­self in Harry – the boy-band star en­joy­ing all the perks of the job? He’s in a dif­fer­ent realm than I was. My op­tions were what­ever was at the ho­tel when I got back. He goes out. That’s smart. I had a good time with my dal­liances. I gave it a good crack. Rob­bie Wil­liams will be ap­pear­ing at the ARIA Awards on Novem­ber 23.

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