For the past 20 years, he’s been one of showbiz’s most recognizable men – and in the wake of a gruesome, near-fatal e-bike accident, he’s more grateful than ever to be alive.
With his signature haircut, t-shirt, and Levis bootcut, Simon Cowell has remained steadfastly unchanged — thanks, in part, to the industrial strength of Botox.
But now, 62 and looking slim, the music mogul has moved away from fillers as he adjusts to a new chapter in his life.
He also confides that he considered therapy when depression hit as he began to recover from the accident in August 2020 and feared he would never walk again.
Still, all is well with soon-to-be-married Simon as he reflects on his comeback from Britain’s Got Talent, The X Factor, and his changed attitude towards the treatment that made him look like ‘something something out of a horror movie”.
He says: “There was a stage where I had perhaps gone a little too far. I saw a “before” photo of me the other day, and I didn’t recognize it as me.
“Eric (his son) was in a hysterical mood. Enough was enough. There’s no filler on my face now. Zero.
“There was a phase where everyone had their faces filled with this and the other.
“But actually, for me now, a lot of it comes down to eating healthy and drinking tons of water.”
Now slimmer than ever after losing three stones, Simon looks better than he has in years.
Part of that is surely down to contentment with his private life – he’s marrying girlfriend of 10 years, Lauren Silverman, later this year, and doting on her son.
He has also reduced his workload, although he will return to Britain’s Got Talent later this month.
But earlier this year The Sun revealed that ITV and Simon had axed The X Factor after 17 years.
The show, which gave us Leona Lewis, One Direction, Little Mix, Olly Murs and Alexandra Burke, had seen ratings plummet and the format looked increasingly tired.
However, with ITV still unable to find a replacement Saturday night show capable of attracting over five million viewers, there is a chance the series will return.
So what would he do differently this time around?
Wages have gone haywire. We made a lot of money but it got too crazy.
Simon Cowell on X Factor
He says: “It’s tricky, but there are hundreds of people who still want to be pop stars. We should go back to basics.
“The other thing we did with the show was to keep tinkering with it, adding new formats.
“When we started the show, it was very simple with unique elements. I would say you can’t do a better music show than that.
“I have an expression though – if you’re going to a party, get an invite. You want to feel people are excited about The X Factor coming back.
“I have to believe we would have some great people showing up. If you don’t, you have a problem.
“The mentoring aspect didn’t really go the way I would have liked. And they should be allowed to play their own material. I would also probably bring a dozen young people who want to get into the world of music and I would ask them to follow us for the season.
“The one thing I promised myself to come forward with is that I want to be more of a mentor.
“The only good thing about getting old is that you have a lot of experience and it’s not always about the things you did well – it’s also about the things you didn’t do. .”
Refreshingly, Simon admits he also blundered with judges’ salaries.
Stars such as Cheryl Tweedy, Robbie and Ayda Williams and Dannii Minogue have secured small fortunes which he admits would not fit in well in today’s credit crunch world.
He said: “Wages have gone haywire. I would be a hypocrite if I said that I didn’t make a lot of money.
“But it got too crazy. And, going back to the X factor, I’m not even sure artists should be judging other artists. I think it’s in their DNA to want to find a star.
Simon says he would also be happy to ditch the traditional categories of girls and boys and have non-binary ones. It may also exclude the over-25 category so as not to be “age-discriminatory”.
Simon, who cites Oprah Winfrey as the biggest influence in her life, also talks freely about her life after her e-bike horror. It has a steel rod in the back accordingly.
Eric was filming him when he fell off the two-wheeler and the couple were clearly traumatized.
Simon, who first rose to prominence in 2001 as a judge on Pop Idol, admits he fell into mild depression while recovering at his home in Malibu, Florida, when he was bedridden for a month.
“I first considered therapy when I broke my back because I was very, very, very, weak,” he says, drawing on one of his menthol cigarettes.
“I felt very depressed because I didn’t know how to explain it to Eric.
“I couldn’t do everything I wanted with him. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to walk again, play football with him.
“It was a low point. I was taking a lot of painkillers but stopped them very quickly. I didn’t want to go that route.
“But in the end I decided not to go to therapy because I had great doctors, Lauren was amazing and Eric was amazing.
“I always wear a back brace that I have to wear when I go out on my bike, and there are big screws in my back, and that’s for life.
“But I am here, I am alive. And I’m grateful.
Simon now offers a collection of 15 e-bikes, ranging in price from £5 to £20,000.
While Simon almost canceled himself on his bike, what does he think about the real culture of cancellation?
He replies, “The music business is brutal. I would say to most people ‘Don’t go because. The chances of being disappointed are enormous”.
“Whether you agree or disagree, you have to have people in life with opinions, it’s as simple as that.
“Look at Piers (Morgan) – he has an opinion, and I love that. We get a written report every time the show comes out and I encourage the writer to put in all the negatives as well as the positives .
“I think people have to learn to have a sense of humor because whatever business you get into, you’re going to meet some nasty people. You just have to take care of this.
- Britain’s Got Talent returns to ITV1 on April 16.