It seems Taron Egerton’s path was always destined to cross Sir Elton John’s. Even before he took on the starring role in the new Elton biopic Rocketman, he performed the hit “I’m Still Standing” (as a singing gorilla!) in the 2016 animated film Sing and shared the screen with Elton himself in 2017’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle. But Egerton’s connection to Elton’s music goes even further back, to an important early audition that actually helped launch his acting career as a teen.
“I was lucky enough to get a place at RADA [the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art] when I was 19, and the song that I sang to audition was ‘Your Song,’” Egerton, who graduated from RADA with a BA in Acting in 2012, tells Yahoo Entertainment. “And it was [my go-to song] for many of my drama-school auditions. It's just a song that I've always loved. That song is so from-the-heart in terms of what it communicates, that it just felt like a good song to act through.”
Explaining why “Your Song” in particular makes for such an excellent acting showcase, Egerton muses, “Well, I think it's got a very clear voice in it. It has a character in it, you know?: ‘Excuse me forgetting, but these things I do, you see, I've forgotten if they're green or they're blue.’ There's a kind of emotional inarticulacy in it that's very human, and so you can really act your way through it. It's perfect in its imperfection, in terms of the voice in it. It's a perfect song, but the character in it doesn't express themselves perfectly.”
Egerton admits that it was a crazy full-circle moment when found himself on the Rocketman set revisiting “Your Song” in the breakthrough Elton role, in a pivotal scene that signifies Elton and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin’s own 1970 commercial breakthrough (seen in the trailer above). “It was very surreal,” he says. “When it came to performing that scene, because I didn't have anything to go on, I approached it like [Elton] was discovering it, and it was something that he finds. And I mean, that's partly true because Bernie writes the lyrics, but the melody, I approached like it was coming from somewhere else. Because then when you approach it like that, you can play with all of the joy and the delight and the spontaneity and the surprise of discovering it.”
Speaking of joy, delight, and surprise, one of the most charming and unexpected scenes in Rocketman is when Egerton reprises his Sing song, the above-mentioned “I’m Still Standing,” reenacting almost shot-for-shot Elton’s totally over-the-top, Russell Mulcahy-directed 1983 music video on the Cannes beach.
“We didn't really know what we were going to do, and so I basically just choreographed this journey. I say ‘choreographed,’ and that sounds very grand; I'm not a choreographer, but our fantastic choreographer Adam Murray wasn't there that day, I think because no one thought I'd be dancing,” Egerton recalls. “So, I sort of improvised this kind of strange little routine from the therapy room out of the rehab center whilst singing a very slowed-down version of ‘I'm Still Standing.’ And I did it to no music, because we didn't have the arrangement. So [music director] Giles [Martin] built an arrangement around what I did, and it's so beautiful.
“But I basically just freestyled, really, and then what happened was I arrived at the door at a certain moment in the song, and we didn't really know what we were going to do outside of the rest, to finish the movie. And this idea of placing me in the ‘I'm Still Standing’ video came about after the main body of the shoot, and we did it during reshoots. And it's great fun, because it brings us back to the real Elton.”
Egerton sounds just like the real Elton as he performs all the vocals on the Rocketman soundtrack himself (Elton was recently quoted as saying, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone sing my songs better than Taron”), and he even duets with Elton on the Rocketman soundtrack’s new single, “(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again.” So it’s logical to expect that he might pursue a singing career in the future with a solo album — and maybe, in another full-circle moment, even record originals written by Elton, with whom he has come to share a genuine bond. Egerton, however, chuckles at that prospect.
“I don't know about that,” he says humbly. “I mean, I really love singing, and I'm developing a taste for live singing as well. I think I'd really love it to feature in my acting career more; I'd love to play some more roles that involve singing. But I don't think I'm going to be releasing an album, just because I don't think I'm that good! I hope I'm good enough to suit the purposes of a musical film, but I'm not an instrumentalist, so I'm not sure how I'd write songs. Yeah, I guess Elton could write some for me — but I think if he writes songs for anyone, they're going to be for him.”
Watch Taron Egerton’s full Yahoo Entertainment interview below:
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