Elton John comments on his bio-pic 'Rocketman'

Elton John has written an article for the British newspaper The Guardian in which he shares his reaction to watching his life portrayed in the new bio-pic Rocketman. Here are some highlights:

  • "I was in the cinema for about 15 minutes before I started crying." -- Elton's tears gushed during a fantasy scene in which he and his family are depicted singing his 2001 song "I Want Love" -- even though the scene purportedly takes place in the 1950s.   
  • Elton "kept well away from Rocketman," and instead allowed husband David Furnish to be his "eyes and ears on set every day." He says he "figured it would be uncomfortable for everyone to have the person the film was about lurking around."
  • "I suppose my mum and dad must have been in love once, but there wasn’t much sign they ever had been by the time I came along." -- They divorced when Elton was 13 and he says he was "happy" that both remarried.
  • "The best way to escape [his parents arguing] was "to shut myself in my bedroom with my record collection and my comics, and drift off into an imaginary world, fantasizing that I was Little Richard or Ray Charles or Jerry Lee Lewis."
  • Elton initially turned down the role of the Pinball Wizard in the film version of The Who's Tommy, then convinced Rod Stewart to do the same. Elton changed his mind after Pete Townshend personally called and pressured him, but then had to deal with an "absolutely furious" Stewart.
  • It wasn't until his after his sons Zachary and Elijah were born that he finally warmed to the idea of looking back on his career via "a film and an autobiography where I was honest."
  • Justin Timberlake and Tom Hardy were both under consideration to play him before Taron Edgerton was chosen. He "thought it was really important that whoever played me didn’t lip-sync," and "knew Taron was the right man when [he] heard him sing 'Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.'"
  • "Some studios wanted to tone down the sex and drugs so the film would get a PG-13 rating. But I just haven’t led a PG-13 rated life. I didn’t want a film packed with drugs and sex, but equally, everyone knows I had quite a lot of both during the '70s and '80s, so there didn’t seem to be much point in making a movie that implied that after every gig, I’d quietly gone back to my hotel room with only a glass of warm milk and the Gideon’s Bible for company."
  • He says he thought the fantasy element in the film was important, because he "lived inside [his] own head a lot as a kid." He also describes the scene "when [he's] playing onstage in the Troubadour club in L.A. and everything in the room starts levitating, [himself] included. He says that, "Honestly, that’s what it felt like."
  • He says he didn't find it painful to watch the parts of the film that dealt with his drug and alcohol addiction in the '70s, because "they’re truthful and, unlike my childhood, it was my own fault. No one forced me to do drugs and drink."
  • He tells the story of how he and lyricist Bernie Taupin hooked up and points out how they're "completely different people...but there’s a weird bond between us...I could just write music to his words straight away, without even thinking about it – and it’s lasted over 50 years."
  • He says that "outside of my husband and children" his relationship with Taupin is the most important one in his life. We really love each other and the film captures that. There’s a scene in Rocketman where he comes to visit me in rehab, and that started me sobbing again."

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