Pop legend Elton John defended actor Targon Egerton over claims that a gay actor should have been cast to play him in the biopic Rocketman. John specifically called those claims “bullshit.”
Egerton, who starred in The Kingsman: The Golden Circle alongside John, takes on the role of Elton John in Rocketman. John came out as a bisexual in 1976, and then revealed he was gay in 1988.
Egerton’s casting has ruffled some feathers with critics claiming that the role of Elton John should have gone to a gay actor. However, Elton John, who is an executive producer on Rocketman, praised Egerton’s performance while talking with The Sun.
“The last time I saw a movie in Cannes was Billy Elliot — and I had to be escorted out in floods of tears, it moved me so much. I was very emotional just now as well. The movie floored me. But I’m very high. Taron is beyond belief. It’s like watching me. It’s quite extraordinary, he’s so me-like. He’s a megastar.”
John would continue to laud Egerton’s acting and singing talent.
“He was schooled by George Martin’s son Giles and he’s done the most amazing job. I wanted it to be a movie where the actor sang — and he sings.”
The Sun’s Dan Wooton would then ask John about the criticism that Elton John should have been played by a homosexual man. John responded, “That’s all bullshit, I’m sorry.” He added, “If people don’t like it, review-wise, or it doesn’t make one dollar, it’s the movie I wanted to make and that’s all that counts. I can look back and say, ‘You know what, I love it. I can live with it’.”
Targon Egerton previously addressed the criticism. He spoke to The Hollywood Reporter revealing he asked gay people he knew about whether or not they would be open to a straight actor playing a gay character. He noted, “I have spoken to gay people for whom it’s not a problem, and I’ve spoken to gay people for whom it is a problem.” He would then reject the criticism noting he is an actor.
“But for my part, I’m an actor, and I did not get into acting to just play people like me. You have to draw the line somewhere, and I don’t want to live in a world where straight people play straight people and gay people play gay people.”
He took it a step further to empathize with critics about their concerns in another interview with Attitude Magazine. There he was quite candid about the role and how some eyes fixated on him due to his heterosexuality.
“It’s easy for me to sit here as a white, heterosexual man and say I should be able to play a part I want. But I completely understand why a gay actor would feel that this is an opportunity for which they would be better suited. The way I feel about it is that Elton asked me to play him in a movie about his life. I am proud and privileged to be playing this person who happens to be gay. And I want to live in a world where people are excited about playing people who are different from themselves. I believe that there is something inclusive and progressive about that.”
The pair have grown quite close. In fact, they shared the stage to sing John’s famous single, Rocketman:
Taron Egerton and Elton John singing Rocket Man. Just wow. pic.twitter.com/L6p5846yFE
— Tatiana Siegel (@TatianaSiegel27) May 16, 2019
The controversy over straight actors playing LGBT characters isn’t a new one. Months ago, Avengers: Endgame actress Scarlett Johansson decided to leave behind a role in the movie Rub & Tug. Johansson was slated to play Dante “Tex” Gill, a gangster and massage parlor owner who was born female, but dressed like a man. Johansson faced an intense backlash from members of the transgender community who believed a transgender actor should have been cast to play Gill.
Rocketman makes its way to theaters on May 31st.