Welcome to the whimsical, sometimes tragic, wholly musical world of Sir Elton John.
On Wednesday, fans lined up at Alice Tully Hall in Manhattan’s Lincoln Center donning their “rock and roll” star-shaped sunglasses and colorful wigs to celebrate the U.S. premiere of Elton John’s musical biopic “Rocketman.” Before the film, actors and filmmakers gathered on the red carpet to chat about the film and its impact on audiences.
“[John] loves it,” Taron Egerton, who stars as the music icon in the film, told Variety. “He’s very passionate about it, and that’s obviously very validating for us. Although Elton [John] gave us all his blessing and knew exactly the story we were telling, he kind of left us to it. It’s also very risky because you don’t know how he’s going to respond. The overall feeling, I hope, is that it’s joyous and it’s a celebration of his legacy.”
John and his husband, David Furnish, produced “Rocketman” and the star as well as his songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, were involved in the progression of the film. The biopic follows John’s life from early childhood to his American start at the Troubadour venue in West Hollywood, Ca. to his drug addiction and eventual sobriety.
“I had input all the way through the production. It’s produced by Elton [John] and his husband. It’s not like it was done independently,” Taupin said. “We vetted the whole process all the way through.”
Instead of a classical biopic, Furnish said that they took a fantasy filmmaking direction which reflected the musician’s colorful life. Ultimately, Furnish wants the takeaway to be filled with hope and forgiveness despite hardship.
“I hope people take away a message of hope and redemption. I think that Elton is very honest about his struggles and his humanity and the idea that you can make mistakes in life and you can have challenging times, but if you have the support of other people you can pull through them and go on to do great things in your life,” Furnish said.
The original score, adapted by Matthew Margeson with a 40-piece choir and 80-piece orchestra, allowed the composer to bring John’s songs to life on the big-screen. There are also choreographed bits in the film, handled by Adam Murray, who expressed pride while chatting on the carpet.
“It’s such a special project on so many levels and I keep saying that for me as a gay man, me as a creative and a music lover, it is very emotional,” Murray said.
When asked about the film’s intimate male love scene, Murray praised Paramount Pictures for honoring the moment and Director Dexter Fletcher’s vision.
Fletcher, who has experience directing both musicals and biopics including the recent “Bohemian Rhapsody” about Queen, wanted this Elton John tribute to be a “spectacle on a grand scale.” Of all of the costumes in the film, he said that the “chicken man” suit was his personal favorite.
“I rather like what we call the ‘chicken man’ outfit with the big red headdress,” Fletcher said.
Before the start of the film, the audience cheered for the cast, filmmakers, and songwriter Bernie Taupin as they arrived onstage to honor “Rocketman” and Elton John. Afterward, nearly all of the audience members stayed to watch the credits featuring original photographs of John throughout his career.
Tavern on the Green in Central Park hosted the after party featuring disco balls at the entrance. Guests posed for photos at a grand piano, and dined on beef and chicken sliders accompanied by wine and champagne.