Busted star Matt Willis shares regrets over ‘gaslighting’ wife Emma Willis

Busted star Matt Willis has given a candid interview about his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction and the effect these have had on his relationship with his wife, former Big Brother presenter Emma Willis.

Matt shot to fame as one of the members of pop punk band Busted in the Noughties, alongside James Bourne and Charlie Simpson.

He married Emma in 2008 and they now share three children together.

In a new interview with The Guardian, Matt talked about his last relapse about five years ago, saying that part of the recovery process “is you make amends to people you’ve hurt”.

He told the publication: “I never did that with Emma; I don’t think I ever can. I think the way I choose to do it is to be this guy [sober and thoughtful], every day.”

The musician added: “When she notices something, I take it on board and listen, and I don’t argue. I go, ‘You feel that way; that means that I am doing something, that’s not in your head.’ Because I was the mastermind at gaslighting, making her think she was crazy. I’m so ashamed of that, and I never want her to feel like that again.”

Matt talked about how, in the lead-up to the pair’s wedding, he was drinking heavily and using drugs. “I couldn’t stop,” he said. “I would try to get to 12 o’clock [without a drink], waking up at 9am going, ‘I’ve got f***ing ages.’ I would be shaking and feeling like I was going to pass out.

“Once I started, I couldn’t stop, and then I was using drugs to function. We had a month till the wedding and the state I was in, she wasn’t going to marry me.”

He went into rehab voluntarily for the first time and spent his wedding day sober. “Then I relapsed again and again,” he said. “But the excitement and fun had gone. It was always dark, always just misery.”

Matt and Emma Willis in 2021 (Getty Images)
Matt and Emma Willis in 2021 (Getty Images)

Matt then managed to get sober again and stay off drugs for eight years, but in the mid-2010s, when Busted reformed and went on tour, he relapsed after he was offered cocaine.

Things between him and Emma were “very difficult” at that time, he said, adding that Emma came close to leaving him “many times”.

“That last relapse was really hard for her, because we had three kids. I’d been eight years sober – we’d thought that it was behind us,” he said. “I went to her and said: I need help, I’m surrendering. Before, it was a case of me promising the world and then letting her down – ‘sorry’ meant nothing.”

The star said he now works hard at his recovery, keeping a daily gratitude journal, meditating, exercising and doing therapy.

Earlier this year, Willis opened up about missing his daughter’s first crawl due to his alcohol addiction.

If you have been affected by this article, you can contact the following organisations for support: actiononaddiction.org.uk, mind.org.uk, nhs.uk/livewell/mentalhealth, mentalhealth.org.uk.