Throughout his career, Sir Elton John has seemingly epitomized the glitz and the glamour often associated with stardom. However, as audiences gear up for the release of Rocketman, which stars Taron Egerton as Elton John, the singer has penned a personal essay in The Guardian about his trajectory towards becoming an iconic fixture in pop music.
In the essay, John notes that certain film studios wanted to tone down the drug-related and sexual content in an attempt to secure a PG-13 rating. However, as the singer notes, "I just haven’t led a PG-13 rated life." He continues, "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."
In 2018, Bohemian Rhapsody was criticized for straight-washing the life of Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury. Although the film went on to win the Golden Globe for Best Picture, Bohemian Rhapsody failed to include scenes that captured Mercury's sexual identity, likely influenced by the PG-13 rating. Critics have speculated as to whether director Dexter Fletcher, who took the Bohemian Rhapsody reins from Bryan Singer and sat at the directorial helm of Rocketman, will make the same mistake.
As producer Matthew Vaughn explained during the film's Cannes premiere, John was adamant about going “as R-rated as you need to” in order to capture the various aspects of his life that some celebrities may have opted out of broadcasting, such as his issues with drug addiction and his troubled childhood. The cast and crew echoed the same sentiments during the debut, which they affirmed delivers an "uncensored" depiction of John's life and career.
John notes that the film purposefully includes storied elements that capture the emotions he felt during certain milestones in his career. “Some studios wanted us to lose the fantasy element and make a more straightforward biopic, but that was missing the point,” he writes. “I 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.... There’s a moment in Rocketman when I’m playing onstage in the Troubadour club in L.A. and everything in the room starts levitating, me included, and honestly, that’s what it felt like.”
Rocketman will be widely released on May 31.