A lot of the time when biopics come out, they're released after the subject has come and gone. The recent 2018 release of Bohemian Rhapsody, for example, gave audiences the chance to take a closer look at the life of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, who died in 1991. It isn't too often that a film's subject is around for a biopic, let alone heavily involved in its production. But when they are it's special, because then they can provide commentary on their own experiences and audiences get to have an even more intimate relationship with the movie. Luckily, that's the case with the upcoming film Rocketman, which tells the story of British singer/songwriter Elton John (played by Taron Egerton in the film). In fact, he wrote a piece for The Guardian reflecting on the making of the movie and how it relates to his real life. Elton John's essay about his life will make you want to see Rocketman even more.
In his essay, John explains that for a while he was never that interested in work that was about his own past. He wrote:
I’ve never been very interested in looking back at my career. It happened, I’m incredibly grateful, but I’m more interested in what I’m doing next rather than what I did 40 years ago. But that began to change a little the older I got, and I really started to approach things in a different way when I had children.
John had his children, Zachary and Elijah, late in life (at ages 63 and 65, respectively), and once he did, he realized he wanted to leave a legacy behind for his kids. And he didn't want it to be just legacy, but one that depicted the honest truth of his life. John wrote in his essay:
Some studios wanted to tone down the sex and drugs so the film would get a PG-13 rating. 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, so there didn’t seem to be much point in making a movie that implied that after every gig, I’d quietly gone back to my hotel room with only a glass of warm milk and the Gideon’s Bible for company.
Rocketman doesn't shy away from the more the risqué elements of John's life, and it also stays true to the fantastical style of John's life. He wrote:
Some studios wanted us to lose the fantasy element and make a more straightforward biopic, but that was missing the point. Like I said, I lived in my own head a lot as a kid. And when my career took off, it took off in such a way that it almost didn’t seem real to me. I wasn’t an overnight success by any means – I’d been slogging around the clubs, making records, writing songs with Bernie and trying to sell them to people who weren’t interested for four or five years before anything big happened. But when it happened, it went off like a missile: there’s a moment in Rocketman when I’m playing onstage in the Troubadour club in LA and everything in the room starts levitating, me included, and honestly, that’s what it felt like.
With such a raw story and such captivating elements of magical realism, Rocketman sounds like the kind of biopic fans will adore.
Rocketman lands in theaters everywhere on May 31.