Mathew James "Matt" Willis (born 8 May 1983), also previously known as Mattie Jay, is an English singer-songwriter, television presenter and actor, best known as a founding member of pop band Busted from 2001 until their split in 2005. After the split, Willis released his debut solo album Don't Let It Go to Waste on 20 November 2006, which included three top 20 singles.
In December 2006, Willis won the sixth series of the ITV reality series I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, and later went on to co-present the ITV2 spin-off show with his wife Emma in 2007 and 2008. In 2014, Willis played the role of Garth Stubbs in the revived ITV sitcom Birds of a Feather and Luke Riley in the BBC One soap opera EastEnders.
Willis was born in Tooting in London on 8 May 1983. He has an older brother, Darren, but their parents split up when he was only 3 years old. His mother later remarried and had his half-sister, Amanda, who is an ambassador for a charity called . Willis has had three different last names legally while growing up. Even though his original last name was Willis, after his father, this was changed to Woods after his parents split and later changed to Sargent after his mother married her current husband. Willis has made it clear that he was a "problem" child, regularly sneaking out of the house by shimmying down drain pipes. He also as a child suffered from tunnel vision, asthma and hyperactivity problems. Willis attended Woking High School after being asked to leave his previous secondary school, before leaving to attend the independent fee-paying Sylvia Young Theatre School in Marylebone, London, where he met his now close friends Lee Ryan, Tom Fletcher, Billie Piper, Jodi Albert, and Amy Winehouse, who had said that she fancied Willis at school.
Willis first found fame in the music industry as one-third of the pop-rock band, Busted. The band's bassist and vocalist, Willis formed the band as well as co-writing almost all of their songs along with Charlie Simpson, James Bourne and Tom Fletcher although the latter was a member of McFly. During their career, the trio became successful in Britain and began an upsurge of pop-punk popularity. They had several chart successes and released two studio albums, one live album and a compilation of their greatest hits, available in America. The band disbanded in 2005 due to Simpson leaving to pursue other projects. On November 10, Busted announced via their official website and Social Media that the band was to reform with a 13-date tour starting in 2016. Due to phenomenal demand more dates were added to the tour. Busted have also confirmed a third album, which is set to be released in the Autumn.
After a brief stint in rehab after Busted split, Matt launched a solo career on Mercury Records, releasing singles in 2005 and 2006, "Up All Night", "Hey Kid", "Don't Let It Go to Waste", and a cover version of The Primitives song, "Crash" for the film Mr Bean's Holiday. Just as he was about to depart on his first solo UK Tour with support band The Riverclub, he sacked his agents of six years 'Prestige Management'. He then decided to leave his record label Mercury Records. "It's not a simple case of dropping an artist but just that we both felt we had reached a point where we could no longer move forwards." Willis wrote on Twitter that he was planning a second album however it never came into fruition.
In 2006, Willis took part in the sixth series of Celebrity MasterChef. In December 2006 on ITV, Willis was crowned 'King of the Jungle' on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! despite going into the final day as the 8-1 underdog against Myleene Klass and Jason Donovan. Weighing 13 stone 2 lb upon entering, he discovered that he had lost two stone after being weighed again in the jungle. In order to enter the jungle, Willis was required to sky dive from a plane. During his stay, in a compulsory bushtucker trial, Willis ate a kangaroo anus, crocodile penis, crocodile eye, witchetty grub, and some sweeties and mealworms to earn a cooked, luxury meal for himself and the other celebrities. In November 2007, Willis and his wife Emma went to Australia and presented I'm a Celebrity... Get Me out of Here! Now on ITV2 after Willis had won the 2006 series. Following in 2008, the couple were asked back after winning a presenting award earlier that year. Each series lasted over six weeks in Australia during November and December. In early 2009, Willis and his wife did not renew their contract with ITV2 due to the birth of their first child in June 2009. In November 2011, Willis appeared on Big Brother's Bit on the Side with his wife.
Since winning I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, Willis has also pursued various presenting projects. On 14 February 2007, Willis presented ITV2's coverage of the BRIT Awards with Lauren Laverne, Russell Howard and Alesha Dixon and returned to this role in 2008 opposite Laverne and Emma Willis. He interviewed Rihanna, Shayne Ward, Adele, Ozzy Osbourne, Kate Nash and many more including Perez Hilton who became very fond of Willis. Following his success in this, he hosted the MTV Hits night of MTV's Spanking New Music Tour 2007 with his wife Emma, live from the Anson Rooms in Bristol on 21 March 2007. In February 2008, Willis presented the Red Carpet coverage for the E! Entertainment network, at the 2008 BAFTA Awards, alongside Ryan Seacrest and Emma Willis.
In January 2014, Willis played Garth Stubbs in the revival of Birds of a Feather on ITV, but did not return for the second series due to McBusted commitments and was replaced by Samuel James. In February 2014, Willis appeared in the short-term role of Luke Riley in EastEnders, the boyfriend of returning character Stacey Branning (Lacey Turner).
In 2010, Willis reinvented himself somewhat as a theatrical actor. In October, it was announced Willis would play Nick in Flashdance: The Musical, a West-End production. Later that year, Willis was offered the role of Chuck in an adaption of Footloose. Willis claimed he had 'never danced in his life' but on the experience exclaimed he was 'loving it'. Late 2011 also saw Willis take on the role of Fiyero in Wicked the musical. He continued the role until 27 October 2012, when he was replaced by Ben Freeman.
In April 2005, aged 21, Willis had a brief stint for three weeks in London's Priory Rehab Hospital for alcoholism. In July 2006, aged 23, Willis was admitted again for a few days to the Priory Rehab Hospital for drug abuse, because he was hooked on cannabis from the age of 13. Matt began to have problems from the drug-taking including physiological and memory problems. In June 2008, aged 25, Willis entered the rehab centre in Bournemouth after a marriage ultimatum, as Willis continued to take drugs and drink heavily. It was reported that a night out with close friend Amy Winehouse pushed Willis too far. Willis took the full five week course in drugs and alcohol. In November 2007 Willis claimed to have stopped smoking, which he had done from the age of 11, but has since been photographed smoking.
On 5 July 2008, Willis married his girlfriend of three years, Emma Willis, at Rushton Hall, Northamptonshire. Guests included ex-member of Son of Dork, James Bourne, David Gest, Holly Willoughby, Ant McPartlin, McFly, Kara Tointon and Heidi Range. OK! covered the wedding. The couple have a daughter who was born in June 2009, and a son, born in November 2011. On 8 December 2015, it was confirmed that Matt and Emma are expecting a third child. In May 2016, Emma gave birth to a baby girl.
On 28 February 2010 Willis was injured in a skiing accident.
- Studio albums
- Don't Let It Go to Waste (2006)
|2006||"Up All Night"||7||29||-||Don't Let It Go to Waste|
|"Don't Let It Go to Waste"||19||44||-|
|2007||"Crash"||31||-||-||Mr. Bean's Holiday OST|