Taron Egerton: On Becoming Elton John

Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman (Paramount Pictures)

Taron Egerton as Elton John in Dexter Fletcher’s musical biopic “Rocketman” delivers a tour de force performance that’s already a shoo-in for the awards. The Welsh actor gives us a peek into his connection with Elton and how he inhabited the icon and the voice.

Taron Egerton as Elton John in “Rocketman.” Photo: Paramount Pictures.

INDULGE: What insight did you gain on Elton John after playing him?

TARON: Seeing him as this very heightened, stylized, and occasionally quite clownish figure – that is something that you perhaps take at face value but then going to play someone, more of an exploration of who he is, has been to think about why somebody does that. Elton is a very candid, open person perhaps because of his recovery, and he’s always been very open about why he dressed the way he did because he didn’t feel particularly comfortable with the way he looked, and perhaps looking at some of his contemporaries who he certainly felt had a more appealing aesthetic, and that’s why he chose to wear these kind of absurd elevated things. So I guess for me it’s been about discovering and exploring the reasons why he presented himself in a certain way. It’s been really interesting to look a the man behind the funny glasses.

INDULGE: You actually sang all the songs in this movie. How did that change you as a singer?

TARON: I’ve done bits of live singing before for drama school and musicals growing up, but it’s a totally different beast. It’s not as simple as just turning up the singing, there’s all sorts of unseen bits of craft and knowledge that become apparent through the process. It’s been a great feeling of growth and learning going on this journey. I feel like my confidence as a singer has really shifted and grown as well…It is a musical, and it is me doing the singing so there is probably a little bit more of me in there than people are used to hearing. I’m actually really proud of that and it’s the kind of thing that appealed to me about this process. Obviously, there’s a limit to how much you want to mess with beloved classic songs, but we have taken some license with them. The beauty of having Elton involved with the film, producing it, is that we’ve been able to work with him to navigate how far we can take that.

Elton John and Taron Egerton

INDULGE: Tell us a little about how you connected with Elton and how it prepared you for the role?

TARON: The first time I met him was a few years ago. He came on set for the second “The Kingsman”, and I was very, very nervous. But a few months later, when this conversation started, I went over to his house for a curry, and we sat in his conservatory and had a chat. It was a very poignant conversation for me, not just pertaining to the film, because he is an incredibly astute, intuitive person, and he sort of knew things about me so that I felt quite exposed and vulnerable. He’s a very, very sensitive person and we talked about some things in life that honestly, I’ve never discussed with anyone else. And I felt a very strong connection with him, and in the past year, I genuinely feel like I’ve made a friend in him because we had a great creative journey. He’s a great facilitator and a great collaborator, but primarily just a massive talent with impeccable taste and massive knowledge. I think that’s the secret weapon of this film. The pedigree he brings to it just lifts everything. I feel incredibly fortunate to have spent the time with him. He’s just a genius and I’ve been completely spoilt by having my first extended experience with a producer be with him, because I can’t imagine it any better.

INDULGE: How do you think this movie will humanize Elton “the icon”?

TARON: I’ve been lucky enough to meet Elton and spend time with him. He’s someone who has been such a force of good in the world in so many ways, both as a creative and as a philanthropist, but we have very fixed ideas about his character and his tempestuous nature, and I hope that what our film does is go somewhere to humanizing that. That’s what was always at the front of my mind.

— Kelly Fine

Rocketman (Paramount Pictures) is Rated R. Running time: 2 hours 1 minute.