Elton John detailed Rocketman‘s long journey to the big screen in his own words in a lengthy article John penned for the Guardian.
“The whole experience of watching someone else pretend to be you on screen, of seeing things you remember happening again in front of your eyes, is a very weird, disconcerting one, like having an incredibly vivid dream,” John wrote of the biopic.
“And the story of how I ended up in a cinema, crying my eyes out at the sight of my family 60 years ago, is a long and convoluted one. And it begins, naturally enough, with a naked transgender woman with sparks flying out of her vagina.”
John then credited model and performance artist Amanda Lepore – who starred in the aforementioned David LaChappelle-directed short films shown for John’s Las Vegas residency – with sparking the singer’s own interest in making a film about his life. “If you were going to make a film about me, that would be the way to do it,” John wrote.
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John – who writes that he turned down the titular role of Harold in Hal Ashby’s classic Harold and Maude in 1971 – then discussed the arduous behind-the-scenes process of getting Rocketman greenlit, with directors like LaChappelle and actors like Tom Hardy and Justin Timberlake at one point interested in the film.
“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,” John wrote. “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.”
Eventually, Rocketman found its Elton John in actor Taron Egerton. “I gave my diaries to Taron to read when he took on the lead role in the film,” John wrote.
“He came to my house, we had a takeaway curry and chatted, and I let him see them. I knew Taron was the right man when I heard him sing ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.’ I thought it was really important that whoever played me didn’t lip-sync, I wanted them to actually sing the songs, and Taron had already sung ‘I’m Still Standing’ brilliantly in the animated film Sing.”
In addition to bringing his life to the big screen, John will also employ the written word to document his career in the upcoming memoir Me, due out this October.
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