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Thursday 24 October 2019

Elton John: I couldn’t tone down sex and drugs to make Rocketman PG-13

The music star said he wanted to keep the fantasy element in the film too.

Elton John on not wanting to tone down ‘sex and drugs’ in Rocketman (Ian West/PA)
Elton John on not wanting to tone down ‘sex and drugs’ in Rocketman (Ian West/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

Sir Elton John has said he did not want to hide the sex and drugs of his younger days in the film Rocketman in order to make it suitable for younger viewers.

The music star’s life is depicted in the biopic with Taron Egerton as Sir Elton, who said that seeing the film in the cinema was like having a “very weird, disconcerting” dream.

The 72-year-old wrote in The Observer Magazine that the biographical film was a long time in the making, and that “some studios wanted me to tone down the sex and drugs so the film would get a PG-13 rating”.

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...

“But I just haven’t led a PG-13 rated life,” he said.

“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.”

Sir Elton said some of the film studios had wanted to make a “more straightforward biopic”, erasing the fantasy element, but that would have been “missing the point”.

He said he “lived in my own head a lot as a kid”.

“And when my career took off, it took off in such a way that it almost didn’t seem real to me,” he added.

Sir Elton said that, while his success did not come overnight, the moment he felt he had made it, during a gig in America, did not feel real to him.

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Jamie Bell, Taron Egerton and Richard Madden star in Rocketman (Ian West/PA)

He said: “There’s a moment in Rocketman when I’m playing on stage in the Troubadour club in LA and everything in the room starts levitating, me included, and, honestly, that’s what it felt like.”

Sir Elton also said that, before Egerton was chosen to play him in the film, Tom Hardy and Justin Timberlake were both in the frame.

The singer said of Kingsman star Egerton: “His singing really astounded me. He isn’t doing an impersonation of me, he doesn’t look uncannily like me – although they shaved his head and thinned out his hair to make it look like mine in the ’70s, which he hated.”

Rocketman is directed by Dexter Fletcher and also stars Jamie Bell and Richard Madden, who play Sir John’s long-time writing partner Bernie Taupin (Bell) and his manager and former lover John Reid (Madden).

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