Will Young recalls ‘awful’ encounter with Julia Roberts

Will Young has reflected on a mortifying blunder he made when he met Julia Roberts for the first time.

Appearing on BBC’s The One Show on Wednesday (24 April), the former Pop Idol star was quizzed by hosts Alex Jones and Jermaine Jenas about what stories he will be telling crowds on his forthcoming UK tour.

Young, 45, who recently opened up about the moment he confronted Simon Cowell, revealed that he was left sweating and embarrassed after he made a joke that didn’t quite land the first time he met the Notting Hill actor.

The musician said: “I was singing at the LA BAFTAs. She was in the dressing room and I get a bit tongue-tied and I just was looking at her and thinking ‘oh god, that’s Julia Roberts.’”

“All I had in my head was [the Pretty Woman theme tune].”

“Then she said: ‘You’re the guy from American Idol’ and I said: ‘No Pop Idol’. Then I said: ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if it was called Pup Idol and everyone brought their puppies’.

“She just looked at me. I know. It’s really odd. Her assistant just moved her away. I’m actually sweating telling this story.

“I started sweating and the make-up artist was like ‘God, you’re sweating quite a lot’. And I said: ‘Yeah I know, I’m fine. It’s just so hot.’”

“It was just awful. But I think people need to hear these stories.”

Young recalled Roberts’s assistants moving the actor away from him (BBC / Getty Images)
Young recalled Roberts’s assistants moving the actor away from him (BBC / Getty Images)

Young has been reflecting on his 20-year-long career as he prepares to tour the UK promoting his forthcoming album Light It Up. Earlier this week, he told Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail podcast about a moment in his early career when he called out Simon Cowell for his judge’s scathing remarks on Pop Idol in 2002.

Young, then 22, performed a rendition of The Doors’s “Light My Fire” on the first ever series of the singing competition.

Cowell called the performance “distinctly average”, and Young took the opportunity to call out the judge’s track record of giving aspiring singers brutal feedback.

Reflecting on that moment, Young said he knew he wanted to stand up to Cowell.

“I thought if you get a moment then people will remember you,” Young recalled. “And then I also knew that I really disliked that man. And I’d met him before on the This Morning boy band competition.”

“And I remember thinking I really don’t like that man, and I went to a school where I was surrounded by … quite unpleasant men. So, my radar for people who I perceive as unpleasant is quite on. And I just want to be careful.”

Young added that he thought Cowell needed to be “put in his place”.

“Because I had to sit and watch him make people cry for weeks, building up to my live performance in front of him,” he continued. “And I just thought, ‘No one’s telling this man. Why is no one telling him?’ And so I was like, ‘I’m going to tell him.’”