The Frenchman tells us his famous friendship circle was bigger pre-2014

Three years ago, nobody knew who Jean Bernard Fernandez-Versini was. But a marriage to – and subsequent divorce from – the nation’s sweetheart, Cheryl, soon changed that.

However, despite Cheryl, 34, introducing 37-year-old JB to celebrity pals, including Simon Cowell and Mel B, he tells Now his showbiz circle of friends was bigger before he met the Geordie singer.

With the one-year anniversary of his divorce from Cheryl approaching, we caught up with Frenchman JB at the launch of The Fall magazine, at London’s Groucho Club – where he merrily asked us to make a toast with him…

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‘I had more showbiz friends before I got to England – I’d done the Film Festival in Cannes since I was 17,’ he spills, before adding, ‘I grew up with all those American [stars] and went to university in NYC.’

And JB told us that being single enabled him to put his London restaurant opening on hold until 2018, to focus on new pop-up restaurant strategy ‘Versini’, taking it from Cannes to the Venice Film Festival.

Despite working the whole summer, which JB admits was ‘hard but interesting’, he reassures us he’s maintained a close bond with his A-list pals. He said, ‘My very good friend Rick Yune [The Fast and the Furious, James Bond actor] came to Venice to support me and I know Gerard Butler.’

Despite his Hollywood contacts, he admits he’s turned down film roles because he’s ‘too shy’ to act. And even his friendship with TOWIE’s Chloe Sims, who he says is ‘lovely and good fun’, doesn’t mean he wants a reality show future. He’s even ruling out shows like CBB and I’m a Celebrity. ‘I’m an only child,’ he explains. ‘I wouldn’t last five minutes. It’s not my thing.’