SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 3: Actor Taron Egerton attends the Industrial Light & Magic Conversations with “Rocketman” on December 3, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)
  • Golden Globe Awards

Nominee Profile 2020: Taron Egerton, “Rocketman”

Taron Egerton remembers the moment quite vividly. On a warm May evening in Cannes, Rocketman was having its World Premiere at the prestigious French film festival. Taking his seat at the Palais, the then 29-year-old native of Birkenhead (outside of Liverpool, England) turned to his immediate right, and there sat Sir Elton John, the man he was portraying in the musical screen interpretation.“There were so many scenarios you play out in your head,” the actor recalled a few days later about the moment. “You work so hard on a movie and this was the absolute best that it could be. Elton was racked with sobs for the last ten minutes of the film and he and Bernie (Taupin) were tapping each other on the shoulders, getting excited. They were watching the two young boy versions of themselves on screen and they looked like kids again. To have that reaction was incredible.”Egerton is having another incredible response as his performance from the film has been recognized with a Golden Globe nomination; Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy.Rocketman is a musical fantasy that weaves together the meteoric success of Elton John’s career set to his songs, and the film is painted in all the glorious colors of the flamboyant showman’s life. Director Dexter Fletcher, along with producer David Furnish, who happens to be John’s husband, made the creative decision to incorporate both the highs and lows of his life. So, while audiences bore witness to how John’s music was created, they also saw the devastation that followed, from drug abuse to ego-driven tantrums.Spending numerous days with the legend, one of the first conversations Egerton had with him was spent talking about family. And the harsh emotional conditions in which his parents raised the young Reginald Dwight. “Elton told me that even though his father has been dead for decades, he was still trying to impress him.” Adds the actor: “That was such a powerful thing to hear and I think we can all relate to that.”Luckily, Egerton had a less dysfunctional childhood than his screen persona and stands today confident in his own skin, proud of his upbringing. “I had the benefit of great parents and great friends, so my story is not as turbulent as Elton’s,” he adds.That assuredness was already on display when the self-described “class clown” decided to channel his youthful energy by enrolling in several youth theater programs at age 12 after moving to the small town of Aberystwyth. Eventually graduating with honors from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, the 22-year-old then made his acting debut with a small role in two episodes of the TV series Lewis before segueing to a regular role on the show The Smoke. But his professional trajectory changed when Matthew Vaughn cast Egerton as Gary “Eggsy” Unwin in the spy comedy Kingsman: The Secret Service, and the ascent has been remarkable.Though he quickly starred in such films as Eddie the Eagle and Robin Hood, it was his voice work as Johnny the Gorilla in the animated musical Sing that would prove to be pivotal. Having sung along to countless David Bowie tunes as a teenager, Egerton was confident in his vocal prowess, but it wasn’t until the Illumination film that he was given the chance to showcase his ability. Serendipitously, he was provided the song “I’m Still Standing” to sing in the film, a performance noticed by Elton John, which eventually led to his casting in Rocketman, and a date to the Golden Globes.Meanwhile, Elton John has finally found peace. And to Egerton, that is a testament to the lesson of the movie. “Although you can be who you want to be, you still have to love yourself; you still have to love that kid who had all these dreams and all that talent.”