In a new British GQ profile, Rocketman Star Taron Egerton discusses the responsibility of playing queer musical legend Elton John and how his own life has prepared him for the role.
“I always felt more at home in a gay club than at a football match, far more at home,” says the actor, who is happy to be leaving behind bro-culture action roles in films like Kingsman and Robin Hood.
“I’m so anxious to know that what we shot survives the studio system,” Egerton says. “Because this film feels like me finally going to the world: here I am.”
Following rumors that the studio behind Rocketman wanted a nude gay scene cut from the film, Egerton candidly explains that “the stuff we shot was pretty explicit. I mean, that’s why I made the film. Those scenes are desperately important when you have an icon of that magnitude, who means so much to one community. [John] has been such a standard bearer. And for me, especially as a heterosexual actor, not to push the envelope as far as I can or try to make it a wholehearted celebration of being a gay man would be wrong.”
The actor was adamant about the necessity for the film to accurately portray John’s life and sexuality without buckling to the pressures that led Bohemian Rhapsody to all but castrate Freddie Mercury. “It’s a studio movie. It’s Elton John. We’ve got to own that,” he says. “I don’t care how well the film does in Russia. It doesn’t matter. It can’t matter. What’s an extra $25 million at the box office? What are you willing to do for that? Sacrifice sleeping at night because you watered the whole thing down?”
Egerton also explains the sex in the film isn’t gratuitous, as John was something of a late bloomer, but that the sex scene between John and his former lover and manager John Reid (played by Richard Madden) is complicated.” And when asked if there was a difference between Rocketman’s sex scenes and straight sex scenes he’s shot, his answer was kind of perfect: “They were both versatile.”
Egerton says he understands the weight of playing this role as a straight man and the importance of getting John’s story right for queer folks.“I’ve approached it wholeheartedly and I hope that for that reason people accept me [as Elton]. The LGBTQ community has always been about inclusiveness, hasn’t it? Not about ‘We’re here. You’re there.’ In fact, if you want to come in, come on in.” Still talking about that sex scene, I see.
Rocketman opens in theaters May 31.