The studio wanted ‘Rocketman’ without sex and drugs — Elton John refused

Although he chose to distance himself from the production of his highly anticipated biopic, Elton John had some key rules and requirements for the producers of Rocketman.

In addition to requiring producers to cast a leading actor (Taron Egerton) able to sing each and every song included in the film, John, 72, requested an honest film about his life — one that wouldn’t gloss over the debauchery and low points of his career.

“Some studios wanted to tone down the sex and drugs so the film would get a PG-13 rating,” he wrote in a recent article penned for the Guardian. “But I just haven’t led a PG-13-rated life.”

“I didn’t want a film packed with drugs and sex, but equally, everyone knows I had quite a lot of both during the ’70s and ’80s.”

Ultimately, John said he wanted Rocketman to be something accurate that he hopes his two sons will look back on to learn more about his life when they’re older and he’s gone.

“There didn’t seem to be much point in making a movie that implied after every gig that I’d quietly gone back to my hotel room with only a glass of warm milk and the Gideon’s Bible for company,” the singer joked.

Elton John (L) and David Furnish attend the U.K. premiere of Rocketman in Central London, Britain, 20 May 2019.

After much consideration, English playwright Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) was put in charge of making a fantasy-filled screenplay for Rocketman, as told by John.

He recounted that the studios weren’t completely sold on some elements of the story until he told them they were essential to the plot.

“Some studios wanted us to lose the fantasy element and make a more straightforward biopic, but that was missing the point,” John said.

“I lived in my own head a lot as a kid, and when my career took off in such a way that it almost didn’t seem real to me — I wasn’t an overnight success by any means, but when it happened, it went off like a missile.”

John continued: “There’s a moment in Rocketman when I’m playing onstage in the Troubadour in L.A. and everything in the room starts levitating, me included, and honestly, that’s what it felt like.”

According to the Tiny Dancer singer, he loved the film so much that it made him break down with emotion at its U.K. premiere last week.

“I was in the cinema for about 15 minutes before I started crying,” he revealed. “Not crying as in the occasional tear quietly trickling down my cheek: really sobbing, in that loud, unguarded, emotionally destroyed way that makes people turn around and look at you with alarmed expressions.”

He accredited that love of the film to its accuracy and genuine honesty.

“I loved it because it was truthful,” he continued. “There are moments in it — and moments in the film — where I’m completely disgusting and awful, but then, at my worst, I was disgusting and awful, and there’s no reason to pretend otherwise.”

Rocketman hits theatres across North America on May 31.

Tickets and screenings in Canada can be found through Cineplex.

John’s article for the Guardian can be read in full here.

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