Liam Payne opens up about everything from his hard drinking and partying to marriage, homophobia, and the future of One Direction in his Attitude cover story.
As Gossip Cop has reported, Payne is the star of two collectible covers for the gay magazine’s October issue. Attitude has also named the One Direction member its “Sexiest Man Of Year,” an honor he finds both bewildering and flattering. “It’s quite a shock to be honest, and I’m very thankful to those who I think I deserve this,” he says. “It’s a great title to have. What can I say?”
Payne ends up saying quite a bit, even acknowledging when he put on weight as he embraced some vices like boozing. “I started drinking a lot and I began to get a bit tubbier… In fact, because of that I was getting fat jibes all the time, which hurt me,” he confesses. He goes on to admit, “I’m not afraid to say I went through a pretty bad stage. And for that time in my life, that was perfect for me. That’s what I wanted to do and so I enjoyed myself.”
Payne likens his use of cigarettes and alcohol to a “muse,” and notes that being away from home for One Direction obligations has been “hard,” and those habits “helped me through it.” But, he says, “There were just a few times that I went over the limit with things and then I had to pull it back.” That happened after being confronted by some unnamed people. “I was very fortunate that I had lots of great people around me who said to me, ‘Look Liam, you need to chill out a bit now,'” he recalls, telling the magazine that he is no longer a drinker.
The British star even recounts one incident from his “wild partying time” when he was a “little bit drunk” as he posed with fans at a red carpet event. “I’m not here to be a role model,” Payne argues. “It’s a difficult thing to place pressure on you when you’re so young. I’m going to mess up from time to time. Everyone does. I’m only human, and sometimes I let my guard down a little too much.”
Payne praises girlfriend Sophia Smith for telling him “what’s going on with my life,” and even credits her with convincing him to do the Attitude shoot and interview. “She very much grounds me. She helps me through things. I love her to pieces,” gushes Payne. And while they have indeed discussed marriage already, he shares, “22 seems a bit young for us.”
As for being accused of homophobia last year after he tweeted that he had “respect” for “Duck Dynasty” star Willie Robertson’s “family values,” Payne insists that at the time, he didn’t know about the controversy surrounding patriarch Phil Robertson. He explains that he connects with the clan’s family dynamics, “but I am not supportive of everything they say.”
Payne calls it both “upsetting” and “disappointing” that he’s been branded homophobic, and tells Attitude about having gay friends. “My mates are my mates, regardless of their sexuality,” he says. As Gossip Cop reported earlier, though, Payne’s further quotes slamming One Direction fans who believe in "Larry," the supposed coupling of Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson, have already been deemed offensive.
But they’re not the only group of Directioners Payne doesn’t think too kindly of. The singer brings up those who have not accepted that Tomlinson is indeed going to be a father, instead claiming the impending arrival is “fake” and a “cover-up.” He says, “That’s the sort of sh*t that gets to me. But you have to hold your tongue and that’s fine.”
Despite those gripes, Payne expresses confidence that One Direction will remain a band beyond their planned hiatus next year. “We will work together again,” he vows. But, he also says, “I realize now this is the time to start branching out and exploring.” And that’s part of what this Attitude project was about, as it’s the “first time I have done something on my own.”
“I was so happy to get the award, but at the same time it’s a super scary thing because [doing the interview along is] such a huge statement to make,” says Payne.
Photo: Getty Images