Rocketman, the R-rated film about Elton John's life up until 1990, opens in theaters today (Friday).
Elton John discussed the journey it took to bring Rocketman to completion:
"It's been kicking around for about 12 years. Initially, we thought about David La Chapelle directing it. So it goes back to the Red Piano [residency] in Las Vegas. And it's gone through a couple of different lives since then, and really, in the last three or four years it's come to fruition. But most studios turned it down, I think because of the content. And luckily enough Paramount said, 'We'll do it,' and they've been fantastic. And so it all started last year and it's been an amazing journey to get this movie made. But it's been worth the wait. I can't find any fault with it myself and I'm looking at myself, which is very strange. But I'm loving every second of it because it's honest and it's truthful -- or even though it's a fantasy, it's truthful about me."
Actor Tom Hardy was originally going to portray Elton, but he doesn't sing and Elton didn't want the movie to be lip-synced. Elton and his team then turned their attention to Welsh actor Taron Egerton.
Elton John on Taron Egerton portraying him in Rocketman:
"I knew Taron could sing because I'd heard him singing 'I'm Still Standing' on the Sing soundtrack. And so we put him together with Giles Martin, son of [Beatles producer] George [Martin], and they worked so hard to get this soundtrack right and I'm astonished how good he is. Not for once do I wince at anything he sings. In fact, not only does he act brilliantly, but he just makes the songs his own."
English playwright and screenwriter Lee Hall, who Elton worked with on Billy Elliot the Musical wrote the script, but Elton is not sure who came up with the movie's title.
Elton John talked about choosing Rocketman as the title of the movie:
"Rocketman was mooted and I said, 'That's a great title.' Yeah, there could have been other titles. You could have had I'm Still Standing. You could have had The Bitch Is Back or Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me. I mean there is so many titles but Rocketman, I think, is by far and away the best title."
Unlike the Queen film, Bohemian Rhapsody, Elton makes it clear that Rocketman is not a bio-pic.
"It's a musical fantasy. The music carries the scenes through the dark side and it gets lifted by the music. Things are out of order in the film. They're not in the right order and they're not chronological. And even though the movie has very dark moments in it, it's ultimately joyous because I get redemption. Just when you go through one bad scene then the music will lift you to another. The film is like Grease meets All That Jazz meets Tommy."
So, if you plan to see Rocketman, there is something Elton hopes you take away from it.
"I'd like them to come away with a sense of redemption and that there is always hope in the bleakest time in one's life. Music saved me, and that’s why there’s music all the way through the film. It’s been a constant in my life since I was a little boy. And it saved me because I still kept working when I was misbehaving and doing drugs. And because I kept working I didn't stay at home and I’m still alive because of that. And I want people to come away with a thought that, 'Yes, you can survive and you need your friends to help you through that.' And that's the big thing I think I took away from this film. How did I survive and thank God I did."
Elton is in Europe as his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour lands in Wiesbaden, Germany Saturday night.