British director Dexter Fletcher has turned his eye to a musical icon not exactly famed for his subtlety or low-key performances, as Taron Egerton stars as Elton John in the first trailer for Rocketman — but don’t call it a biopic.
“Everyone thinks it’s a biopic. It isn’t,” Egerton told Collider at this year’s CinemaCon in Las Vegas. “It’s a fantasy musical so it’s actually his songs used to express important beats in his life at emotional moments. He’s not the only character that sings. It’s going to be fun.”
I mean, Rocketman certainly sounds like a biopic to me from that description, and I think the general audience would be disappointed with a film about Elton John’s life which didn’t feature any singing. This does look closer to your traditional musical, however, with the singing not solely confined to scenes of Egerton-as-John performing on stage or in the recording studio.
There’s plenty of that in this first teaser, obviously. There’s also a pint-sized Elton running along a suburban street while men in flat-caps leap with napkins, housewives pirouette, and a performance where the audience are lifted out of their seats by the sheer power of the music.
Egerton, who previously played Eddie the Eagle for Fletcher, certainly looks the part. Given Elton John’s ostentatious stage garb and spectacle choices over the years, it could just as easily have tipped into caricature. We didn’t get a good look at any of them, but Rocketman‘s cast also includes Jamie Bell and Bryce Dallas Howard.
While it looks like Fletcher is having fun with the form, this teaser does already hint that we’re in the trad biopic arc here — familiar from Ray, Get on Up, Walk the Line, et al — where John rises to success, struggles with booze and drugs (and his sexuality), breaks down, builds himself back up. Then again, there’s only so many chords, aren’t there? It’s all about how you play them. And it helps if you do so in a Donald Duck costume.