Countdown to Rocketman premiere

Croisette at fever pitch as Elton John arrives for biopic

by Richard Mowe

Elton John an his alter ego Taron Egerton up close and personal at the Cannes Film Festival for the Rocketman premiere
Elton John an his alter ego Taron Egerton up close and personal at the Cannes Film Festival for the Rocketman premiere Photo: Festival de Cannes

The ascent of the fabled red carpet tonight (16 May) at the Cannes Film Festival for the world première Out of Competition of Rocketman marks the end of a decade long journey for Elton John and husband David Furnish, who is one of the producers.

They started on the project ten years ago with filmmaker David LaChapelle attached to it and Justin Timberlake signed as the musician as young man. LaChapelle helped to fashion a script but dropped out and then Lee Hall, who did the stage musical version of Billy Elliot, was brought on board to provide the lyrics and book.

Elton John in Cannes
Elton John in Cannes Photo: Richard Mowe
John and Furnish did not want a conventional biopic but they found it difficult to get the pieces of the jigsaw to fit, making it nigh impossible to attract finance partners.

They persevered, eventually landing Dexter Fletcher (Bohemian Rhapsody) as director and Taron Egerton to play the musician. The cast also features Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden as manager John Reid and Bryce Dallas Howard as his mother Sheila Eileen and Stephen Graham as music publisher Dick James.

Fletcher has said that he didn’t let budget considerations restrict his vision, adding: “I went full out, hell for leather because the film warranted that.” He defended his corner with the financiers and won through.

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

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