Why Elton John refused to ‘tone down’ the sex and drugs in ‘Rocketman’
LONDON — Elton John isn’t shying away from his wild days. In fact, he said he pushed producers of “Rocketman” for an honest portrayal of his sex and cocaine-fueled days of the past.
“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,” John wrote in a piece for The Guardian. “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.”
Prior to landing at Paramount Pictures, “Rocketman” passed through Focus Features and Walt Disney Studios.
It took nearly two decades to get the movie made, because, the singer wrote, in addition to wanting things toned down, many producers just didn’t get his vision.
“Some studios wanted us to lose the fantasy element and make a more straightforward biopic, but that was missing the point,” John wrote. “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 [Taupin] 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.”