It seems funny that a Hollywood biopic about the colorful life of musical legend Elton John hasn’t been made already. The famous singer-songwriter – whose Oscar-nominated (and winning) tunes for Disney’s The Lion King are currently playing in theaters, once again – will see the early portion of his life realized in fantastical fashion in the upcoming film, Rocketman.
John (who was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight) has previously likened Rocketman as being more along the lines of Moulin Rouge! – and less a standard biopic about the trials and tribulations of a well-renowned musician (see: Ray, Walk the Line, etc.). It’s arguably a fitting approach, given the colorful nature of both John’s personal and private lives.
Here is how Deadline describes the project (which John is producing):
[‘Rocketman’] will follow [Elton John’s] life story from a child piano prodigy (who by age 11 won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music) to a young man who rebelled against his strict upbringing, wore outrageous costumes and became a global icon who teamed with songwriter Bernie Taupin to sell more records that just about any musical artist of his era.
Lee Hall (Billy Elliot, War Horse) is scripting Rocketman, which will mark his second collaboration with John – after the two worked together on the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical adaptation of Billy Elliot. Hall’s screenplay will also incorporate choreographed performance sequences that are set to some of John’s most popular titles (the man has more than a few, put mildly).Will ‘Rocketman’ = ‘Across the Universe’ with Elton John music?
While the Bob Dylan biopic, I’m Not There, likewise took an unorthodox approach to its subject, Rocketman is expected to go even beyond the unusual design of that film. Based on early descriptions, the Elton John flick could mix the hyper-visual stylings of a purely fictional musical (like Across the Universe) with a semi-experimental narrative, similar to that in Pink Floyd The Wall.
The prospect of McAvoy signing on to play a younger version of Elton John in Rocketman sounds quite promising – given that the actor has a knack for playing bright-eyed and charming types onscreen (see: the X-Men prequel, Penelope, the original British Shameless TV show, etc.). Plus, having someone like McAvoy as the star would help ensure that Rocketman boasts some genuine human heart and drama – and not become yet another film where style completely trumps substance.
No one is currently attached to direct Rocketman, though that should change in the near future. Someone with a creative sense of visual splendor (like Baz Luhrmann or Julie Taymor) would be the obvious choice, though it’s certainly possible that, say, a lesser-known music video helmer may ultimately snag the job. We shall see…
Look to learn more about Rocketman – including an update on whether McAvoy or another actor ends up signing on – in the future.