UPDATE (Mon. Mar. 26, 7:40 a.m. PST): Rocketman director Dexter Fletcher has weighed in on rumors of the movie’s potential straight-washing.
A Daily Mail report last week claimed Fletcher and producer Matthew Vaughn were being forced by Paramount Pictures to cut a 40-second nude, “gay love” scene featuring Taron Egerton, who plays Elton, and Richard Madden, who plays his manager and love interest.
“[Rocketman] has and always will be the no holds barred, musical fantasy that Paramount and producers passionately support and believe in,” Fletcher wrote on Twitter. He added the film is unfinished, and called the conversation around its potential straight-washing “nothing but rumors.”
The film is currently being shown in segments to journalists, and is due out in theaters May 31.
ORIGINAL: According to a new report, Elton John biopic Rocketman might not be quite as gay as anticipated — and for a biopic about Elton John, that’s pretty gay. The Daily Mail claims that Paramount, the studio behind the film, is pressuring director Dexter Fletcher and producer Matthew Vaughn to cut a queer love scene from the film.
In the alleged 40-second scene, John (Taron Egerton) and his former boyfriend and manager John Reid (Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden) lay in bed together with their behinds exposed. Paramount reportedly wants the scene cut so that the film can secure a PG-13 rating — apparently the studio fears that two men in bed together with their asses out would be too racy for anyone under the age of 17 — without a parent or guardian present, of course.
“Two guys have a naked cuddle to express their love for each other and that will be reduced to a fully dressed warm hello. The world knows Elton’s gay. It’s no secret,” said the source, who worked on the film.
The Daily Mail suggests that Paramount hopes to recreate the success of Bohemian Rhapsody by keeping the explicit queerness to an absolute minimum. In fact, Fletcher was the director brought in to finish Bohemian Rhapsody after Bryan Singer was fired. The film went on to rake in $879.8 million at the box office, and Paramount clearly wants to follow that model.
While the studio has yet to comment on the report (Out has reached out for a statement and will update should we receive one), this news is unsurprising. Bohemian Rhapsody was both a critical and commercial success, made palatable by the erasure of Freddie Mercury’s queer sexuality — if anything, his queerness is treated as the film’s villain — to focus on his relationship with Mary Austin.
If this scene exists and it’s cut from Rocketman, it will be another instance of Hollywood’s desire to profit off the outrageous personas of queer people while doing everything in its power to make their stories sexless and commercially viable. Hold me closer, tiny dancer — just not too close. And make sure your pants are on.
Rocketman is in theaters May 31.