KELLY BROOK IN DUBLIN
Former glamour model Kelly Brook says she’s healthy and feels good – and that’s all that matters to her now she’s stopped letting body shamers rule her life
I’m trying to pinpoint the exact look on the young male sales assistant’s face as he gazes at Kelly Brook, posing in front of him in Skechers’ Henry Street store in front of a bank of photographers. Is it lust? Not really. Adoration? Perhaps. Infatuation? Meh. Rather, it’s something approaching warm affection. And come to think of it, everyone in the room looks at Brook exactly the same way.
Her tonged caramel waves have a life of their own. Her eyes, friendly pools of dark brown, are framed with long eyelashes. Her laugh bounces off the walls.
This photocall – where Kelly launches YOU by Skechers as their brand ambassador – is not her first rodeo. She knows how to pose effortlessly; to elicit the energy that Skechers girls like Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears are famed for. And then there is of course, the body.
Today, her famous curves are camouflaged under a plain T-shirt, camel biker jacket and skinny jeans. Hers is, famously, a body known for launching a million lustful boyhood fantasies.
Whole rainforests have been destroyed down the years as the media have paid breathless tribute to her cello-like proportions, her luscious womanly softness, her 30FF chest.
I ask her if it bothers her that her bust is one of the first things that springs to people’s mind about her: whether she will ever tire of the prefixes like ‘Curvy’ Kelly Brook or ‘Busty’ Kelly Brook that doggedly follow her around.
‘No… it tells a narrative doesn’t it? It’s fine,’ she shrugs.
Despite many career highs and lows (of which, more later), there has always been a fascination with Kelly’s fluctuating figure. Earlier this year, she was body-shamed by online trolls (one callous commenter was moved to write: ‘bro, you have gone a little chubby’). Her fans came out swinging in retaliation, but after two decades in showbiz, Kelly herself is pragmatic about the negative attention.
‘Well, I have put on weight,’ she says. ‘I started in showbiz at 18 and now I’m nearly 40 [she’s 38]. There is an element of, well, your body and your face changing.
‘You’re going to look different and that’s okay as long as you’re healthy and you feel good. I’m not really aspiring to look like an 18-year- old. That’s not really what I get up in the mornings for. It’s what young girls want to read about,’ she adds of body shape. ‘A lot of young women struggle with body issues and there’s a lot of body shaming going on, so it’s nice when there’s a positive role model out there. When girls are constantly on a diet and worrying about being skinny, girls can think “that’s more of a realistic body type, she looks like she eats”. And I do.’
It hasn’t necessarily always been this way: in 2015, Kelly went from a Size 14 to a Size 8. At that
point, she was the new body of the Atkins diet, she was starring in her first big US TV show – NBC sitcom One Big Happy – and was living in healthobsessed Los Angeles. A year later, she has returned to a healthy Size 10-12.
‘I look at pictures of when I was really skinny at some points in my life and I remember some of the times being some of the saddest,’ she admits. ‘ There was going through a bereavement when my father passed away,’ she says of her father Kenneth, who died of cancer in 2007, while she was starring in Strictly Come Dancing. ‘ Then I had a break up, or my boyfriend was cheating on me.
‘I would look at those pictures and think, “wow, I was so thin”, and I probably thought I looked great but you remember how you felt at that time and I would not swap places with that girl in a million years. You realise that just because someone is super skinny, doesn’t mean they’re happy. The fatter I get, the happier I am.’
Much of this has to do with being loved up with French boyfriend Jeremy Parisi. The two jetted into Dublin for Kelly’s Skechers photocall and stayed in the Morrison Hotel during their whirlwind visit to the capital.
As is becoming increasingly normal in celebrity interviews, I am told expressly by the PR beforehand, more than once, that any questions about Kelly’s personal life are strictly verboten. Whether the sparkly ring on her wedding finger actually means anything will remain a mystery.
Previously, Kelly was quoted as saying about Parisi, who she has been seeing for three years:
‘One time my boyfriend accused me of dating Keanu Reeves, I’ve never even met Keanu Reeves. Things written about me get me in trouble because people believe it’
‘We’re not putting any pressure on ourselves. We’re not engaged, we’ve got no plans to marry. We’re happy and just enjoying what we have.
‘He’s so lovely and family- orientated. He’s not got a big ego. His priority is family, it’s not career or work, which is what I’ve always found in the past. You just know when you come first? I know it’s me and him first, then everyone else comes after.’
Kelly’s previous enthusiasm for engagements hasn’t gone unnoticed – she’s been fiancée to actors Jason Statham and Billy Zane as well as marineturned- Gladiator David McIntosh).
‘I’ve been pigeonholed as this silly, giggly glamour girl who dates bad boys, but that’s never been the real me,’ she is quoted as saying recently.
The real her, rather, loves nothing more than mucking about on her expansive Kent farm, close to where she was born and raised. In fact, you’re more likely to find her there, tending to her apple and pear trees and gardening, than on the London or Los Angeles red carpets.
‘I’ve lived in Kent for 10 years, and I travel around the world and have spent some time in America. I only move from my hometown if I’m working but I’ve never gone that far away from my family. There’s not really that much privacy in London – you get a load of photographers and stuff,’ she adds. ‘You might get the odd one down in Kent and it’ll be like, “what are you doing in my lane?’’’
To the locals, meanwhile, she’s plain old – not ‘Curvy’ or ‘Busty’ – Kelly Brook.
‘I know everyone there as I’ve lived there for so long. I’m sure they still read the magazines and know what’s going on.’
These days, staying healthy is a big priority; it’s a notable switch for the woman who once owned her own plush London bar, Steam & Rye.
‘My therapy is gardening,’ she notes. ‘I’m around nature, plants and trees more than I’m around people, and that’s really good for your state of mind. I’m not the type to sit around with all my girlfriends and gossip. I’m not really like that,’ she adds. ‘I don’t really feed into that negativity and I don’t like all that stuff. I’d honestly rather be planting bulbs.’
She is, she notes, a world away from the glamorous and well- coiffed persona that comes to work. In her spare time, she likes to go to the beach, or ride her bike to the park.
‘If I manage to clean my teeth and brush my hair, that’s enough,’ she smiles.
‘I’ll have done enough for myself for the day and it’s all about everything that needs doing on the farm. Constantly being worried about your figure… well, it’s a bit narcissistic, isn’t it? There’s enough of that when I get to work and it’s all eyes on me for most of the day, like today. But most of the time, no one cares about me. I should think that most people imagine me in a penthouse apartment in London, on the red carpet, partying every night, but my life has changed so dramatically.
‘After owning a nightclub for three years, and rolling out of it, I feel I’ve done a lot of that. It feels like such a long time ago.’
I remind her that even if she wasn’t one of the world’s most eligible bachelorettes thanks to her gorgeous looks, owning a fully licensed nightclub would have made her even more of a catch, especially to Irish men. The thought makes her cackle. ‘It’s hilarious that having a 32FF bust and then owning a nightclub is what would get you a boyfriend quicker in Ireland,’ she laughs. ‘“She’s got a great body”, “Oh, that’s alright”, “She also owns the pub”, “Oh, now I definitely should date her!”’
Given that she is no stranger to the gossip columns, thanks in part to that aforementioned penchant for bad boys, I ask about the strangest non-truth rumour that’s ever been written about her. ‘Oh, there are so many,’ she sighs.
‘One time my boyfriend started accusing me of dating Keanu Reeves behind his back,’ she says of the rumour that broke in 2014, at the time she was thought to be seeing McIntosh.
‘I’ve never even met Keanu Reeves, but this guy was so devastated that I was having an affair with Keanu Reeves. These things written about me get me in trouble because people believe it.’
The one other thing giving Kelly’s private life a run for its money in the headline grabbing stakes is her rollercoaster career.
At 16, she left the famed Italia Conti academy and began working as a glamour model. It was a stylist at a photo shoot who suggested Kelly audition to replace Denise Van Outen as co-host of The Big Breakfast in 1999 with Johnny Vaughan.
She got the gig but after fluffing a couple of lines and coming a cropper with the autocue once or twice, the press savaged the newcomer.
However, since then, her television CV has been padded out with several high-profile gigs, among them presenter of Love Island, contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, and Britain’s Got Talent.
On the acting front, things are slow and steady. One Big Happy has been cancelled, but Brook has a TV hosting gig lined up for the new year, and will
appear in an episode of Midsomer Murders. She has no interest in appearing on reality TV again, though she would happily host a show. And when it comes to cherry picking acting roles, she is careful not to upset the delicate balance of her hard-won good life on her farm.
‘I have a great team in America and they’re very good in terms of saying, “you definitely have a chance at this part!” when I really don’t have a chance,’ she laughs.
‘I don’t think you can underestimate how much rejection you go though during pilot season in the US,’ she says of the couple of months when pilots for new shows are created and either picked up or rejected.
‘’They key is to be realistic and ruthless about what you go up for,’ she surmises. ‘I don’t go for the roles that I know I’d be going into a little half-a***d. I usually do one or two auditions a year, and I’ll often book one or the other.
‘ There are roles you know you’ll do a good job on, but you know that Keira Knightley is also in the running, and they’ll always go to Keira first and hope that this will be the year she does television,’ she adds. ‘It’s always a good idea to know exactly where you are in the tier.’
But, as the media is often fond of reminding her, despite an impressive CV, built up over two decades, hers is a career possibly more marked with false dawns and non-starts. It’s a criticism that Kelly wears very lightly.
‘I see it more as a marathon than a sprint, and it’s okay that I didn’t become a worldwide superstar when I was 21,’ she notes.
‘Some people did become worldwide superstars at 21 and you don’t hear about them any more. I’m in it for the long haul. I’ve never really broken out big time, but things have been consistent in terms of jobs and my income. I’ve had a lot of really good moments.’
What would life have been like had she become a massive superstar at 21? Quick as lightning, she replies: ‘I’d probably be an a***hole.’
SKECHERS has launched two limited edition styles as part of its YOU by Skechers collection. For each pair sold, €5 will go to the Marie Keating Foundation. The YOU collection is available at Skechers stores nationwide. For more details, see Skechers.com
I’VE NEVER REALLY BROKEN OUT BIG TIME BUT THINGS HAVE BEEN CONSISTENT”
Kelly Brook in Dublin earlier this month and, inset left, with the new Skechers design
Kelly in her early glamour modelling days and, right, with former fiancé Jason Statham in 1999
Kelly with current beau – and rumoured fiancé – Jeremy Parisi in July this year