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Exclusive: Busted star Matt Willis shares his motivation for getting sober

Ahead of Busted's sell-out reunion tour, Emma Willis' husband Matt shared the secret to his happiness  

Matt Willis and Emma Willis posing on the red carpet
Rosie Nixon
Editor at Large
21 April 2023
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Matt Willis has had a long career in the spotlight. After gaining popularity as the bassist in pop-rock band Busted, he released his debut solo album Don't Let It Go to Waste in 2006, earning himself three top 20 singles.

The 39-year-old star was also crowned king of the jungle in 2006's I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! after winning the hearts of the nation, and has tried his hand at acting, appearing in EastEnders and on the stage in the hit West End play 2:22: A Ghost Story.

As well as a nationwide Busted tour in autumn 2023, Matt is planning to release a powerful documentary in which he talks openly about his struggles with alcohol and drug addiction, in a bid to support others.

Busted on This Morning© Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock
Busted will be on tour in autumn 2023

On top of that, he juggles wellness and life as a father to children Isabelle, 13, Ace, 11, and Trixie, six, with his 46-year-old TV presenter wife Emma Willis.

Matt spoke on HELLO!'s In A Good Place podcast about how he keeps himself grounded and grateful and what helps him through his internal struggles.

 INSIDE: Emma Willis' £1.7m family home with husband Matt is designed to perfection 

Welcome, Matt. Are you in a good place? 

"I'm in a really good place. I've been shooting a documentary, which has been really full-on.

"I'm either really on or off. When I haven't got much in my diary, nothing seems to get done. I'm better at being busy, bizarrely."

You often post lists of things you’re grateful for on your Instagram. Is that something you do consciously and regularly? 

"I've done a gratitude list every morning for about ten years now. It was something I got into when I got sober – my sponsor made me send it to him and I resented him for it but now it's something that has stuck with me and I do it every day.

"We’re in such a strange time in the world, where everywhere you look can feel so negative. But actually, the people I meet every day are great and most things in life are really cool. I think we can easily forget that.

Matt Willis on This Morning© Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock
Matt Willis struggles with addiction

"If you watch the news, everything feels so terrifying. But if we keep gratitude in our little world in the day, we can focus on larger problems that give us a calling."

You're making a documentary with the BBC, Matt Willis: Addiction and Me. How has that been?

"We've pretty much finished filming it. It's been amazing. It's something I've wanted to do for years. 

"There’s so much stigma attached to addiction and it feeds into shame, which is an addict's worst enemy. A lot of people don't like the term 'addict', but I've become okay with it.

 MOST READ: Everything Emma and Matt Willis have said about baby number four 

It took me a long time to come to terms with that, but in my life, it's a word that sums me up when I think about all those things. 

"I have learnt that I am so much more than that, but I definitely have addiction in my life in every way, shape or form and it kind of intertwines itself into everything.

"At drama school, there were people that were much better than me at everything, but I was willing to outwork them. I would stay longer, I would do more and I would try. I was addicted to that. It's not always bad."

Matt and Emma Willis dressed up for an event
Matt and Emma Willis share three children

Did becoming a parent change your life? 

"It changed me in so many ways, I can't really express it. It got me sober – I was struggling so much with drink and drugs for so many years. My wife is an unbelievable person, but I couldn't stay sober or clean for her.

SEE: Emma Willis unveils £1.2k fitness feature inside family home

"When I had Isabelle, I realised I was going to be a terrible father and it hit me like a ton of bricks. That was what changed me. Everything was about me being a better person for her.

"That's why I do most things. Some things are for me, but I'd say 90 per cent of the things I do are so I can be a better father or a better husband."

What is the most challenging part of parenting?

"Seeing myself in my children. You can never really see your flaws as clearly until you see your kids; they are a representation of you, in a way. It's your job to raise these little humans and make them capable to live in this world and sometimes I see something where I'm like: 'That's me.'

"I make mistakes and it kills me, but I'm very good at owning up to them. I think that's something which is overlooked. Just because you're the parent doesn’t mean you’re not wrong."

emma willis matt willis dinner
Emma and Matt have been married since 2008

What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

"This too, shall pass. Whatever you're going through, if you wait long enough, it will end. I've come back to that saying so many times and I've said it to other people. Sometimes we can feel like we're in the darkest and most horrible place, but give it a week and you'll feel differently. 

"Even if you’re going through something really harsh and you feel the world is ending, it will pass. But also, if you're going through the most amazing thing in life and it's incredible and rocking, that will pass. That's just life."

Where is your ultimate good place?

"Ibiza. I've had so many different experiences on that island, and different lifetimes. It's a special place. I knew it for one thing and one thing only for many years and people were scared of me when I would go there [for the party scene]. But I've had transformative parts of my life there too."

Listen to Matt Willis' episode of In A Good Place and subscribe to the In A Good Place newsletter


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