Before SAS Australia, Mark Billingham Was ‘Cherry Picked’ As the Jolie-Pitt Family’s Bodyguard
Mark “Billy” Billingham is most famous in Australia for his role as DS [Directing Staff] Billingham on Channel 7’s hit series, SAS Australia.
Not only is the 53-year-old popular locally, but he is also a household name in the UK as TV’s most experienced, highest ranking, most decorated SAS leader and sniper.
If his resume is not impressive enough, Billingham was also a bodyguard to Russell Crowe, Sir Michael Caine, Tom Cruise and even Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, before starring in the hit reality series — which is why he is bringing his stories to Australia for a speaking tour, An Audience With Billy, in May
Billingham grew up in the West Midlands in England, and was a stabbing victim the age of 11 years old. Running around with the wrong crowds into his teens, he admitted that he “needed direction” and joined the military.
“I needed discipline. I needed to be shown that I wasn’t the person that I thought I really was,” Billingham said in an interview with POPSUGAR Australia.
From nine years old, the SAS DS was told that “you ain’t who you think you really are,” and so he “grew used to” the mentality.
“I knew the military was exactly where I needed to be.”
Billingham joined the British Army just after the Falklands War, joining a regiment that had all been to war.
“I was fortunate enough to have those people as my instructors and what they were teaching me was real. It was based on real experiences.”
Following his turn in the Army, Billingham had the task of looking after some of the most famous faces in the world — including the Jolie/Pitt children from 2006-2008.
Responsible for Maddox, Pax, Zahara and Shiloh, he was “cherry picked” because of his military career.
“People who don’t know what the bodyguard world is really about, think it’s all about image. No, it’s about organising and planning.”
Billingham was tasked with giving the kids a sense of “normality”.
“It was about doing research and putting processes in place. That they go to school by a different means each day. It was so manipulated and worked in that lifestyle so that they [the kids] don’t see any abnormalities, they see normality. Behind the scenes, you’re always looking if there’s a threat from someone trying to kidnap them, is there a threat from the paparazzi getting the wrong picture.”
“As a bodyguard, you look and research and make sure if there were any sort of threats you had it covered to hide that away from the children and from Brad and Angelina as well. So, 90% of my job was done behind-the-scenes as well.”
With such a varied life, Billingham has seen, done and been a part of it all — even being part of missions that we could only dream about.
“I always live by one simple mantra: ‘Always a little further,’” he said. “I really do do that, but I don’t put my life in risk above what I really need to.”
For more information on An Audience With Billy, click here.