ROCKETMAN Interview – Taron Egerton talks about playing Elton John

‘Kingsman’ actor Taron Egerton stars as Elton John in this epic musical fantasy about the singer’s legendary breakthrough years. We were lucky enough to attend a sneak preview of the film presented by Egerton and director Dexter Fletcher at London’s iconic Abbey Road studios where the duo gave us more info about the highly anticipated movie.

Congratulations on the film. Did you need to get Elton John’s blessing before you signed on?
Taron : It was Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman director) who first approached me about the prospect of playing Elton and a phrase involving ‘Bears & Woods’ sprang to mind…  But this is a movie about a great songwriter, it was always the mandate that we’d slightly reimagine things & play with things with Elton’s blessing of course.  Elton’s always been very very supportive, he’s a producer on the film, him and David Furnish have been so unbridled in their support of me and their encouragement in me, making me feel like I could do this, I didn’t need much convincing I don’t think.

What did you learn about Elton John that you didn’t know before going into this?
Taron : What I thought was special about this project is down to Elton’s very specific personality type, especially having gone through recovery, which I think leads to a certain quality of openness and candidness. The movie begins with Elton marching into rehab in a real bad way, sweaty, grinding his teeth, and that’s our jumping off point for the film. We learn his life through him recanting his experiences from this therapy room. For someone like Elton, who it’s his and David’s production company behind the film, for him to come from a standpoint of “I’m going to show everyone myself at my most vulnerable, and my most broken and damaged self”. I think that quality and bravery and lack of concern of how one comes off is quite unusual and it’s right at the heart of what makes ‘Rocketman’ so special, because Elton essentially gave me the license to go and make him look quite ugly at times, and that was very important to me. This movie is primarily a celebration of Elton’s life and work and his musical partnership with Bernie Taupin but it’s also the story of someone who wasn’t well becoming well, and that’s what was what I found most interesting and most exciting about it.

The Elton & Bernie Taupin relationship has a lovely moment in the film, with ‘Your Song’ finding its creative spark. How do you describe the relationship between Elton & Bernie in the movie?
Taron : The most significant gay relationship explored in the film is Elton’s relationship with John Reid, but if there is a love story at the heart of the film it’s the story between Elton and Bernie Taupin and the incredible music they created over the past 50 years. Although Elton put his relationship with Bernie front and centre constantly over the years, he’s the unsung hero of all those songs that we all know and love…  This movie is quite rightly a movie about a friendship and a writing partnership as well as this icon that we all know and Love. Jamie Bell, when his name came up, I got very excited, he’s a perfect fit for someone intensely likeable, dependable, consistent, always there with creative verb, with a glint in his eye, he’s the perfect person to play that role. We had a great time bringing that relationship to life.

There’s a scene where Elton is in the toilets afraid to come out. Did you have any (nervous) moments in the making of this movie?
Taron : Yeah – the night before we shot that scene because it’s the first thing we shot, in hindsight now looking back the pressure of it has been fairly massive, but I guess a weird sadistic part of me probably enjoys that, but on the eve of shooting I was having a few freak outs.

Elton John is so well known, how do you go about starting a process like this?
Taron : I think, sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that there’s this perfect iteration of a story to be told that were all striving for. It’s like a statue in a crystal and we’re trying to find it, but it doesn’t exist, what does exist is an interpretation. What you see, by and large is our shared interpretation of the story, all you can do is get up every day and know that the story you’re telling is important and use your better judgement, your best taste and all of your commitment to make it the best story it can possibly be. You do that by finding ways to make it as important to you as possible, the most significant one of those is that we all know and love his music, and for me I spent a lot of time with the man, they say don’t meet your heroes but it’s just not true of Elton John.

I’m a big believer of falling in love with the people you’re working with, the collaborate process is so important, I care about the journey, I care this time we’ve had and I’ll always remember it, I believe that our very positive experience contributes to what you seen on the screen, I believe our joy and experiences in the studio feeds into what you see on screen.

ROCKETMAN is in cinemas from May 22nd