INTERVIEW: Will Young talks to Sammy Jones about stepping back into the corset and starring as Emcee in Cabaret

We're pretty bored by vacuous musicians and actors who trot out bland attempts at sound-bites, which makes a chin-wag with Will Young a refreshing change.
He's honest, open and opinionated. And we don’t have to wait to speak with him until the afternoon, either.

"I've been up bright and early, walked the dogs and done my admin..." he says, when we take his call shortly after 9am.
Incredibly, it’s 16 years since Will Young won the inaugural series of Pop Idol. It was pre-X-Factor. It was new, fresh and reinvented the wheel so far as Saturday night television was concerned.

In 2017, Will is still reinventing his own wheel; he has a clutch of multi-platinum albums under his belt, two BRIT Awards, and his appearances on the screens big and small have been lauded.
More recently he has launched the successful Homo Sapiens podcast with filmmaker Chris Sweeney.

Now he is about to shape his figure twice daily pouring himself into a corset, to reprise his role of the enigmatic Emcee in Cabaret.
It's a part that earned him an Olivier Award-nomination when he delivered it to the West End.
Is it perhaps easier to be Will Young the actor, as opposed to Will Young the singer?
"It is easier for me, because it is a lot more playful. It is basically playing up and doing impressions - and all kids do that...."
But wait, you don't get Olivier-nominated unless you have star quality.
There's a whole lot more skill involved, we say. The reviews were glowing.
"I like to think I can hold my own. I don't read reviews though - I learned very early on not to believe the good, and not to believe the bad. I just rely on the team around me to guide me and really, after that? There's not much else that can be done..."

So Will doesn't read the critics' appraisal. But then he's not had the easiest of relationships with the press, we offer, but Will disagrees.
"It doesn't feature in my life - how can one have a relationship with something that isn't physical?"
He pauses, and then says, "I don't like having a camera in my face, but that really doesn't happen very often. It is an illusion."

Nonetheless, not all the press was entirely warm when Will exited early from Strictly last year, and his private life has been made very public in times past.
" is upsetting for me, but then I also think 'children are eating mud in Syria.'
"I validate my feelings because I want to do that, and I'm like 'If that's what you guys want to make a deal of, and what you want your job to be, fine.
"I want my job and my life to be about helping other people - I want as much fulfilment as possible, and happy people don't do unpleasant things..."
He continues: "Do I like Dan whatshisname from The Sun? No.. I think he's probably a very unhappy person.
"Luckily, I don't choose to be around those kind of people, and the best way to get through it is to practice love and empathy...otherwise I just hang on to anger and hurt, and that doesn't do me any good."
But don't mistake this rational, level-headed response as a weakness. If anything, it is the reverse.
"It doesn't mean I am a pushover," he promises, and we've already assumed as much, "Say things to me face to face and I'll handle it..."
But online and print tales?
"It's like water running through your hands..."

One thing Will doesn’t shy away from is a frank answer to any question we pose. And no throwaway generic answers.
Take his battle with PTSD.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve been outspoken, I’ve just talked about my experience,” he says with an easy openness.

“The problem is the need for diagnosis. Medication can slightly cradle PTSD but it can’t get rid of it, so people get labelled with bi-polar, personality disorders, psycho…labels are great, but at the end of the day, behind 98% or 99% of addictive behaviour, trauma would be at the heart of it.
“Trauma is not just bombs being blown up or cars crashed Trauma is someone’s experience of helplessness and hopelessness and it is very specific to that person.
“None of us live in anyone else’s shoes…”

Before fame came calling, Will studied politics in Exeter. It’s a long way from the lauded actor and singer he is today, but yes, he’s still political.
“I actually feel like what I am doing allows me to be more political, and speak up for people who don’t have voices,” he ventures.
“…more and more people are being marginalised, and one of the problems is that community’s are so fractured now. The more fractured they are, the more controllable they are.”
Will brings up the shocking and tragic Grenfell Tower fire.
“…lots of people, including famous people, wanted to claim a bit of it. Like ‘I can see the tower from my house,’ and that’s fine, but then you jump into your 4x4 and dash of to John Lewis.
“‘Why don’t you actually get involved in your community?’ It’s not your fault and it doesn’t mean it would have changed anything, but why not find some connection?
“Getting involved at grass roots takes a lot more work than 140 characters on twitter.”

Will was last seen in Milton Keynes in 2015, playing under the Rugby World Cup banner.

From October 31 he will return as the aforementioned Emcee when the much-anticipated Cabaret arrives at Milton Keynes Theatre.

Its a far cry from his first role - cast as a fir tree in a school play.

"By the time it came around there wasn't much thinking involved," he says of his return in the production which also stars Louise Redknapp.

"I had kind of inhabited him, and then it's just about being that character and how the character would react.
"For me, that is where I want to get with any acting part...
"I felt it was the right role for me, and I was pushed enough to make it exciting...

"I always wanted to do it as soon as I saw the film from the age of 12,” Will says, “… so it was not dissimilar from wanting to be a pop star.”
”I had prepared most of my life for it…”


To book tickets click here 


> Never miss leisure news in Milton Keynes - Follow us on

And on Facebook: