Once a child sensation at the mercy of music industry men, she is now calling the tunes — from dazzling on stage and screen to directing her debut film. An unwitting Jonathan Heaf gets a full blast of Billie Piper
‘We’ve met before, haven’t we?’
Oh, bugger. She remembers. I was hoping I would scrape through by the skin of my now itching teeth. That Billie Piper might not remember me. But, no. There it is: recall like a shotgun to the face. ‘You were the one round my flat that time who kept trying to put on f***ing Coldplay!’
Ouch. I turn, look behind one shoulder for comedic effect and then uselessly stutter something along the lines of, ‘Oh, nooooo, really? Me? That couldn’t possibly be me? What? Who? Nope. Coldplay? Yuck! And we’ve never met. I don’t think? Yes? No! Oh God, please, no…’
By this time Piper, 38, has walked closer and is towering over me. You know the way a great American eagle cocks its head to one side inquisitively just before it bites the legs off a small mouse? As I squirm, the actor gleefully continues, now tapping her publicist rapidly on the arm to ensure his complete and utter attentiveness. Her publicist — a lovely man called Max who I do definitely know — is looking at me with a mixture of mild disappointment, amusement and a total lack of surprise.
‘Yes!’ Piper is now giddy as the memory floods down from her brain to her fingers like liquid ecstasy. She’s giving me the teeth. All of them. All I can do is pray a sinkhole immediately hits the London studio we’re currently occupying. ‘You were so bloody annoying!’ Ah. Hold up. Actually, I mutter, to be fair, that does sound like me. Or rather old me.
“It’s the pressure we put on ourselves, and each other. I think this habit, or culture, is backfiring. It’s unhelpful life messaging”
“Has my entire career just been charged by being a very anxious person? Is that what has produced all this stuff?”
“The idea that you can find balance while spinning a career, relationships, children, is bullshit”
“Just like Britney, becoming famous for me was a trauma. It is not a healing process. It is deeply unnatural and very threatening”
“Literally, any invitation that arrives, I don’t care whether it’s the opening of a jam factory or a coffee shop, I am going”
Stylist’s assistant: Raphael Del Bono. Hair by John MacPherson using Oribe. Make-up by Heidi North using Nars. Nails by