Egerton and Elton’s tearful Cannes duet

Rocketman star on telling a life story with warts and all

by Richard Mowe

Taron Egerton and Richard Madden talking up Rocketman at the Cannes Film Festival
Taron Egerton and Richard Madden talking up Rocketman at the Cannes Film Festival Photo: Richard Mowe
Welsh actor Taron Egerton, who plays Elton John in Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman, wishes that people would stop reminding him of his unexpectedly tearful impromptu duet with the man himself during the afterparty at the Cannes Film Festival last night.

“Ok let’s stop talking about it,” said an embarrassed Egerton when he was reminded of the flood gates opening at his encounter today with the media today.

Richard Madden: Reactions justified the faith the production had ‘invested in the project over the years'
Richard Madden: Reactions justified the faith the production had ‘invested in the project over the years' Photo: Richard Mowe
“I got a bit emotional. It was one of the best days of my life. We have worked really hard to try to make something we are truly proud of. It is not your typical biopic. We do not deal with the songs in a chronological order. There are elements of fantasy and we take some licence with the truth in the interests of full disclosure. People did not float off the ground at the Troubadour as you see in the film.

“The response has been wonderful. Those who have said nice things have made a young man from Aberystwyth very happy and you have made a 72-year-old rock star very happy as well.”

Egerton said that the primary concern and mandate was to tell a story that also was a celebration with warts and all.

“We did not seek to deify Elton or to make him flawless and perfect. We wanted to tell a human story and that is why you see the peaks as well as the troughs. We were very fortunate that we had a brave studio working with us to achieve that. Not a lot makes Elton blush … so he was very at peace with us in telling the story that way,” he added.

Director Dexter Fletcher admitted that it had all been highly emotional to sit there in the company of Elton and Bernie Taupin as well as David Furnish.

“For them, though, it was even more emotional because they were watching their lives unfold. The movie tries to be very emotional and touches on some very deep rooted feelings at certain moments in their lives. And to see that visceral and emotional reaction from Elton and from Bernie and the rest was incredible because it has been a long journey for them.”

Fletcher who part directed the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, confirmed that Elton John had made clear it was "not to be self-serving”.

Dexter Fletcher on Elton’s attitude to Rocketman:  'There was nowhere I could not shine a line - no dark corner where I could not go'
Dexter Fletcher on Elton’s attitude to Rocketman: 'There was nowhere I could not shine a line - no dark corner where I could not go' Photo: Richard Mowe
He added: “He has always been very open and honest about who he is and the film reflects that. One of his great strengths is that nothing is hidden and he has this joie de vivre and lust for life. There was nowhere I could not shine a light - no dark corner where I could not go. He let us tell the story and that was the great strength of it. It is important that he loves it.”

Richard Madden said he basked in the atmosphere of “an electric evening”. He felt the reactions justified the faith the production had ‘invested in the project over the years.

Egerton pinpointed John’s enduring appeal. “Elton is a global phenomenon, partly because people feel a sense of ownership over his songs because they highlight periods in our lives. That is why people have a personal investment.

“To portray him was a huge honour and a responsibility. The enormity of it is borderline overwhelming but I have gotten to know him. I am proud to call him a friend. He is the kindest, most nteresting and warm man. To prepare I immersed myself in his music. It was a real privilege in spending a lot of time with him and talk to him about anything. He will tell you absolutely everything.”

Rocketman is released in the UK on 24 May and in the US on 31 May

  • Read more about Elton John and Taron Egerton on the Croisette here

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