Rocketman star Richard Madden feels that cutting the sex scene from the Elton John biopic would’ve been a disservice. Although the actor made a name for himself portraying Robb Stark during the early seasons of Game of Thrones, he has more recently become better known for his work in Bodyguard. Madden can currently be seen playing Elton John’s first manger and lover, John Reid, in Rocketman.
Rocketman stars Taron Egerton as famed musician Elton John. The actor had worked with John previously in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. From the moment images began emerging of Egerton in John’s signature sequin costumes, excitement has been building for the project. The Rocketman trailer made most fans feel confident that this film would be true to the artist’s life and work. Egerton and John even performed a duet of “Tiny Dancer” that showcased just how much Egerton has captured the performer’s ineffable spirit. However, there were some concerns about the movie that Egerton referred to as a “fantasy musical,” rather than a biopic. Rumors persisted that Paramount wanted to cut a nude scene between the actor and his costar, Madden. Director Dexter Fletcher was quick to shoot down these accusations and it would seem that the film’s stars wouldn’t have been okay with losing the scene anyway.
When speaking to EW, Madden explained that it was important to Fletcher not to censor this story, especially where John’s sexuality is concerned. Madden felt that losing the sex scene between John and Reid would’ve been a "disservice." He stated, “It’s an intimate thing between these two characters and a significant moment in Elton’s life. And Elton’s life was very R-rated, wasn’t it?” The actor also praised Fletcher’s vision for the film, calling it “Moulin Rouge on acid” and complimenting his ability to seamlessly integrate John’s spectacular performances with more dramatic moments. Madden continued, “Jumping from one to the other is quite an abstract thing to do, but Dexter had such skill at bridging those gaps.”
Rocketman’s early screenings have received excellent reviews from several critics, including our own. Interestingly, this isn’t actually Fletcher’s first rock biopic. He was also responsible for taking over Bohemian Rhapsody after Bryan Singer was let go from the project - though Singer’s directorial title remained intact for the finished film. The Queen movie was a box office success and a huge hit with audiences, as well as an awards darling. However, many critics were unimpressed, feeling that it presented a sanitized version of Freddie Mercury’s life. There were worries that Rocketman would similarly shelve John’s sexuality in favor of telling a more paint-by-numbers story.
Those fears appear to be unwarranted as critics are already praising the film’s overall portrayal of John, not only his sexuality, but also his struggles with depression and his love of performing. Aside from the script and direction, Egerton himself is also earning rave reviews for his performance as the iconic musician. There are two kinds of biopics: those who present a full picture of their subjects, defects and all, and those who focus more on the legend. While the movie needn’t revolve around John’s sexuality, it's certainly a vital aspect of honoring the performer with an honest portrayal of his life. It’s heartening to see how important this was to those involved in making Rocketman.
- Rocketman (2019) release date: May 31, 2019