I’ve wasted so much time with stupid men
THE TV STAR ON HER DOOMED AFFAIRS, DISASTROUS JOBS AND TWO MISCARRIAGES
T he last time I spoke to Kelly Brook was on the dancefloor after the cameras stopped rolling on Strictly. She was all sequins and smiles and had just done an amazing dance with Brendan Cole, but she whispered solemnly, ‘I may not be here next week.’ She didn’t mean she feared being voted out, she was top of the leader board. She was dancing for her father Kenneth, also a ballroom lover, but he was dying of cancer and no matter how hard she danced to make him happy, to stop herself from being overwhelmed with grief, she knew he was coming to the end. That week, in November 2007, he died. Kelly was inconsolable. She started to write about him, his illness, her family, and it formed the start of her memoir Close Up.
The book is an unflinching account of a life that’s been played out largely in the media, and the doomed romances that have littered it. Kelly first fell in love at the age of 18 with former British high diver turned Hollywood hardman Jason Statham, but their relationship hit the rocks after seven years when she met Titanic actor Billy Zane in 2004. They became engaged, but he was living a champagne lifestyle on lemonade money and she called it off after four years. She lost a baby at six months with former Scottish rugby player Thom Evans in 2011, causing that relationship to fall apart too, before rekindling her romance with womanising England rugby player Danny Cipriani, whom she’d previously dated for two years before Evans. When she discovered Cipriani was a serial cheater last year their split was both explosive and final.
But on the plus side her calendars are bestsellers, as is her range of swimwear, and she’s been happily engaged for the past six months to fitness expert David McIntosh. She’s also about to star in new US TV comedy One Big Happy. Ellen DeGeneres is the executive producer. Whatever’s been thrown at Kelly in the past – disastrous jobs at The Big Breakfast and Britain’s Got Talent, disastrous boyfriends – she’s always had the ability to turn it around and never come across as a victim.
Today when we meet she looks radiant in a floral playsuit. She’s tangibly happy, open and funny, and I’m interested in what prompted her to write the book. ‘Oh, I’ve wasted so much time with stupid boys and doing stupid things, there’s been so much written about me, I thought it’s about time I closed the door on all those chapters. I’ve been so defined by those relationships and things that have happened, I wanted to put my point of view across. That way I can move on. I wanted people to understand what happened, and I’m not a victim. It’s just the nature of things. If you dance with the Devil you get burnt. But who wouldn’t want to dance with the Devil every now and then? What’s life if you don’t give it a go?’
She’d been approached many times by various publishers. ‘But I’d always wanted to be private, and then after the Danny Cipriani thing last year I thought I’m sick of protecting people. He was sleeping with so many women behind my back and yet I was blamed for being a bad influence on him. He never stood up and said it was nothing to do with Kelly.’ She now sees what was obvious from the start. Cipriani is a needy man. ‘He needs constant attention from any woman at any time and if you’re not going to give it to him there’s a whole line of women who are ready to. From the attention of his own mother to his friend’s mother to glamour models. It’s endless. I started to think all these men are absolutely spineless. I got wound up in the celebrity culture – I was either associated with them or the failure at The Big Breakfast. Anyone or anything in this book is fair game.’
She’s scathing about Cipriani. She says he wasn’t funny or intelligent and his only chat up line was: ‘You’re the one. I’ve never felt like this. I want to have your babies.’ ‘Except two weeks later he’s saying it to the next one. When I found out he was with his friend’s mum that was it. I thought, “I can’t help you any more. I’m going to Hollywood. See you later.”’
Does she think there’s been a similarity in the men she’s gone for? ‘Yes, they’ve all been on their a***s when I met them. They didn’t have a career or they were at the end of
‘They were all in debt or had no job. I tried to help them’
one career and trying to start something else. I met them all at not a very good time for them and that’s my fault for being nurturing, for being like Mary Poppins. They were all either in debt, or had no job, or they
were figuring out what to do. ‘Jason was at the end of his career as a diver when I met him. He wanted to be an actor. Thom had just broken his neck and was finishing with rugby. Danny was just starting his rugby career. And Billy was at the end of his movie career. I tried to help them and give them encouragement.’ She says she and Statham began as equals when they met on a photo shoot at the end of his diving career in 1997, although he was 12 years older, and their careers began to take off at the same time. He went on to star in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. He and Kelly enjoyed Ritchie’s Hollywood, hanging out with Madonna and Vinnie Jones. Statham went on to be one of Britain’s highest-earning exports, and is now dating British model and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
Kelly was with him for seven years, but whenever she tried to talk to him about getting married or having a baby he didn’t want to commit. It’s not surprising she got swept away by the excessive Billy Zane when they met in 2004 on the set of a movie called Survival Island. ‘Jason was my first love,’ she says with a hint of wistfulness. Did she perhaps get involved with Zane to shake things up with Jason, but they got shaken up too much? ‘Yes, I guess so. Billy was never going to be somebody I wanted to spend my life with [despite the fact they got engaged]. It was a fling. I knew the relationship with Billy would either make us or break us, and it broke us. Jason says even to this day, “It was my ego. I couldn’t get my head around it.” I know that for many years afterwards he wasn’t happy. Neither of us were. Part of us will always love each other and there have been times... for instance, last year when the Danny thing was ending, Jason called out of the blue and said, “I still love you so much”, and I said “I still love you.” We’ll always still love each other. Then I read the next day that he’d broken up with Rosie so it was obvious why he called. I don’t want to be a crutch for someone and I thought it was a genuine phone call. Men are such pigs. He and Rosie got back together and I haven’t heard from him since.’
Billy Zane sounds insane and completely controlling. ‘He threw all my clothes away.’ At that time she was wearing the young Hollywood uniform of jeans and a Juicy Couture hoody. ‘He threw everything away. It was an interesting exercise. He wanted me either to look like a 60s Bond girl or a 50s housewife. That’s how he saw me. I felt I had to find out who I was and what my own style was anyway, but it was controlling. He projected all his fantasies on to me. I never had a real life with him. I was always in a fantasy fairytale.’
Her four years with Billy involved private jets or first-class flights to exclusive destinations, although he didn’t have a home at the time. ‘I was paying for most of that. I’d done well for myself but suddenly I was living this lifestyle and thinking I can’t keep up with this. I guess if you’ve been a Hollywood movie star for many years, it’s hard to live with me in Sydenham [a London surburb]. That was part of the reason I didn’t marry him. As soon as the next muse came along he’d be off and I wasn’t prepared to share everything I’d worked for with someone who didn’t deserve it.’ It wasn’t all bad with Billy. It was exciting and he was a wonderful lover. ‘You can’t find someone with everything, can you? That’s why some guys cheat all the time. They don’t have sexual chemistry with their wives so they look for it elsewhere. I don’t think Danny had the sexual chemistry with
‘I’ve always thought I’m more talented than I am’
me that he had with all those women he was cheating on me with. But he’s never going to have with them what he had with me. He’s got that whole Madonna/whore complex.’
Kelly had wanted to start a family since she first got broody with Jason. When she finally became pregnant it was with Thom Evans four years ago. Was it at the wrong time or was he the wrong person? ‘Oh definitely the wrong person. Thom needed a career, not a girlfriend. He’s a selfish man. He’s an athlete and a lot of athletes are selfish.’ Athletes are part of Kelly’s pattern. Why does she go for them if they’re selfish? ‘ Because they’re disciplined. My life is chaotic so it’s nice to have routine. Thom was supposed to be a bit of fun but I got pregnant quickly, absolutely from nowhere as we’d been careful. When I had the miscarriage I was distraught but I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my life with Thom. As soon as he started modelling he wanted a whole other world.’
Does she think about how her life would be if she’d had that little girl? ‘Yes, of course. Some of my friends’ children are the same age as my daughter would have been. There are times when I really wish I’d had that child, that it doesn’t matter whether you’re together because you’ve got a child. Hopefully I’ll have a baby soon.’
She always refers to the loss of the baby when she was six months pregnant as a miscarriage, when technically it was a stillbirth. Is that because it’s the only way she can look at it? ‘Yes, it was a stillbirth, but in my mind it was a miscarriage, that’s how I can deal with it. The hospital were insisting otherwise and wanted to record a name, but I didn’t give them one because I hadn’t thought of one yet and I’ve never regretted that. I wanted to move on from that whole experience.’
She became pregnant again very quickly, but lost that child after a few weeks. ‘It happens to many, many women and you just have to think when the time is right it will happen. Until then you have to be grateful for what you have, not what you don’t have, although I don’t want to get to the point where I don’t have a choice any more.’
She dedicates the book to her boobs. ‘They’ve been the most consistently talked about things, despite all the headlines about my relationships and the major sackings from TV shows. I’ve pretty much built an empire on them. I was going to call the book The Booby Diaries because I’m grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way because of them. But I wanted to cover serious topics too.’ The beginning of her book is all about her dad, how much she loved him, and how she was in denial that he was dying. It paints her parents – Kenneth was a scaffolder, her mother Sandra was a cook – as a passionate couple. ‘They used to fight like cat and dog and punch each other out the whole time.’
Kelly also has a tendency to punch people. One of the funniest bits in the book is when she punches Jason for flirting with Gwyneth Paltrow at Madonna’s wedding to Guy Ritchie in 2000. ‘I think if you come from a background where you’re disrespected that’s how you retaliate, it’s natural. It’s obviously something I need to work on because I don’t want to go around punching people.’
Kelly had a scholarship to Italia Conti stage school and could have stayed on for A-levels, but left when she was 16 as her parents couldn’t afford the fares from Kent to London. That was her first heartbreak and it formed her. She decided to use glamour modelling as a circuitous route into acting: she had control of her own image and made money from it. She says people were a lot kinder there than in the TV world where she was ‘eaten for breakfast’. The Big Breakfast was a career low. In 1999 she replaced Denise Van Outen, who’d had a very successful partnership with Johnny Vaughan, but failed to recreate their chemistry.
At the time Simon Cowell invited her to be a judge on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 she was quite happy acting and modelling. And when he said he could change people’s perceptions of her she was bemused. ‘He wanted to make me the new Cheryl Cole.’ She points out in her book that Cole needed to be reinvented after she’d been found guilty of assault on a toilet attendant, and Cowell did it for her with The X Factor, Kelly was never that needy. ‘I’ve always thought I’m
‘BGT wasn’t a job I messed up. It was a job I didn’t like’
more ta lented and better-looking than I am. I’ve always had confidence. I got the impression he thought he was the be-all and end-all of entertainment and without him you’d have no career, but there are many people who don’t have anything to do with him and do well. It wasn’t a job I messed up, it was a job I didn’t like.’
She is now working on a new TV show, and engaged to David McIntosh. She doesn’t talk about him in the book. ‘Basically because I’m happy and he doesn’t deserve to be in the book. I stopped the book at a part where things are just starting to work out brilliantly.’ She beams once again. Close Up: The Autobiography by Kelly Brook is out now (PanMacmillan), priced €17.99.