Taron Egerton, who will play legendary rocker Elton John in Rocketman, says the film is "musical fantasy" and not a biopic about the singer-songwriter's life. Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, Elton John is without question rock 'n' roll royalty with a career in music that spans nearly five decades. Along with his fellow songwriter Bernie Taupin, John has created some of pop and rock music's most enduring hits, from "Your Song," "Bennie and the Jets," and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" to "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," "Empty Garden (Hey, Hey Johnny)," and "I'm Still Standing."
Another one of John's hits is "Rocketman," an introspective song that tells the story of an astronaut preparing for what is certain to be a lonely trek into outer space. It's one of the many musical illusions that John and Taupin created for fans over John's illustrious career, and it also appears that the upcoming film about the singer's life will follow the same sort of fantasy format rather being grounded in reality.
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In an interview with Collider, Egerton, who rose to fame with his role as Gary "Eggsy" Unwin in the Kingsman movies, revealed the approach that Rocketman will take when production gets underway, and it's not what people are expecting. He says the movie is "about Elton John’s formative years. Everyone thinks it’s a biopic. It isn’t. It’s a fantasy musical so it’s actually his songs used to express important beats in his life at emotional moments. He’s not the only character that sings. It’s going to be fun."
Egerton says that he's already been preparing to play John for the film, which could begin shooting as August but for sure "will be this year." He says, "I’ve recorded some songs. I’ve been doing singing lessons. The next step is I need to think about choreography and trying to create some semblance of a performance that is at least reminiscent of him."
The actor is no stranger, of course, to John and his music. Not only did Egerton cover "I'm Still Standing" for the animated jukebox musical Sing, John himself appeared as a heightened version of himself in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Plus, since John is producing the film, it's almost a certainty that he will be around to mentor Egerton to help the actor capture the essence of his younger self. Edgerton also says he "will always be singing on set. No miming."
While Rocketman may not be the biopic that fans were hoping for, the film should be entertaining nonetheless. Using existing music to help tell a narrative has worked well for films like the ABBA-inspired Mamma Mia! and Julie Taymor's underrated Across the Universe, which told a '60s-based story through The Beatles' music. So, Rocketman is bound to benefit both by having Egerton playing John in the film and having others sing his songs to help tell a story.
Better yet, Rocketman's director, Dexter Fletcher, will be coming off his time at the helm of Bohemian Rhapsody, which tells the story of Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury from 1970 to the band's legendary Live Aid performance in 1985. If the Bohemian Rhapsody lives up to the hype generated by the film's recent presentation at CinemaCon, Rocketman should be firing on all the right cylinders when it finally rolls cameras.