Marie Claire's February cover girl talks babies, weddings and divorce in a candid new interview
‘It’s disgusting,’ Billie half-jokes, leaning over to allow me a better view of the inscription writ large on her inner forearm. The tattoo reads: ‘mr fox 31-12-07′ – a permanent reminder of the day she married the actor Laurence Fox. ‘He’s got mrs fox,’ she laughs. ‘I think we both regret it now.’
Impetuosity is one of Billie Piper’s most endearing qualities. Her desire to live for the moment, a recurring theme in her relatively short life (she’s still only 27), is something we’ll revisit over the course of the evening.
Billie has a third series of Secret Diary of a Call
Girl to promote and she’s just finished filming the new Kay Mellor drama, A Passionate Woman, but our conversation soon veers off towards more intimate territory. ‘It’s funny,’ she says, ‘when Laurence and I go out into the countryside (the couple split their time between Clapham, south London, and their home in Midhurst, West Sussex), I think a few of the older locals actually believe I’m a whore! They love Laurence because he’s in Lewis, and his fan club are basically in their mid-sixties and upwards. Then they look at me and are like, ‘That slag! How could you dirty yourself with her?’
The couple married after a whirlwind courtship every bit as intense as the one she enjoyed with Chris Evans and, in October 2008, Billie gave birth to their son, Winston James Fox. You don’t hang around, I joke. ‘I worry that sometimes I’m not capable of living at a normal pace,’ she admits, aware that ever since leaving Swindon at the age of 14 to attend the Sylvia Young Theatre School, everything has been in acceleration. ‘One of the things Laurence and I row about most is the fact that I literally can’t plan at all.’
After Chris Evans and those lazy days in LA, and the shots of her falling out of clubs, there were never any guarantees that Billie would be able to reinvent herself as one of Britain’s shining acting talents. But she did – in both 2005 and 2006, she won Best Actress at the BBC Drama Awards and has managed to become – at least in the eyes of the public – someone new.
Not that she isn’t still wondering what she’s meant to be. ‘I don’t know whether it’s because I had the singing career first,’ she says, ‘but you just think, ‘When is this going to stop? When am I finally going to feel sated?”
This is an edited version. To read the full interview, pick up the February issue of Marie Claire, on sale from Friday 8th January.