Hair and make-up artist Lizzie Yianni-Georgiou sums up “Rocketman” as the story “of a great icon who hits rock bottom. You see the great things happen and he hits rock bottom. By the end, he’s pulled himself together and he’s still standing.” For the viewer, it’s a rollercoaster ride of emotion, but as Yianni-Georgiou says, it was also a rollercoaster for those making it.
The film follows Elton John as a young boy who grows up to be Elton John. By reading the script, Yianni-Georgiou planned all his looks. “I knew we were going to span through all the different decades going from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. I planned what make-up should go where.”
Taron Egerton, who is a contender for his portrayal of the iconic singer, was an eager participant in transforming into John. “He was very up for dying his own hair and taking his hairline back and shaving a little bit away at the front,” Yianni-Georgiou says. “He was up for taking hair away at the back to give him the male pattern of baldness.”
When John plunges into a swimming pool during a key scene of the film, Yianni-Georgiou only had to be concerned about the “eyebrow pieces, the sideburns and the tooth enamel” staying on.
Throughout the film, Egerton undergoes numerous costume changes, but Yianni-Giorgiou said she only restricted herself to a certain number of looks for him. “He had quite a bit of make-up through the whole thing, but we kept it to a minimum so it didn’t overtake the character. I restricted myself to five different looks for Taron’s character. It could have been more because of all the different costumes and Elton had so many different looks. I felt that there were a lot of costumes and set changes, so the audience could keep track of where we were. I wanted the make-up to help tell the story,” she says.
The hit “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” features a young John at a fairground. The scene was shot over three days, and “those were the hottest days of the year.” Yianni-Giorgiou had to do the make-up for 50 other dancers for that scene as well.
“[For Egerton], I used eyelift and used Armani make-up to give him that lovely smooth skin. As we went into his 20s, we had thicker sideburns.” Yianni-Georgiou adds, “After that [scene], he’s losing his hair, and the hair is shorter. After he throws himself in the pool, we go to the ’80s and rehab.” They had to show John aging: “We felt we needed to show him balding more. We used a bald cap on top of his own hair. We had thicker eyebrows and side brows.”
Aside from Egerton, Yianni-Georgiou had to dress the other characters who had to age along with John. Richard Madden dyed his hair to play John Reid. “He had to play it quite tough. We went for the dark hair that the real John Reid had, which I think helped made Richard stronger and not quite as nice as he actually is.” She adds, “We dyed Richard’s own hair that we used for a certain part of the film, but we also used a longer wig for the first part of the movie, and we used shading on his face to give him that stronger look.”