“There’s a lovely quality of vulnerability that he has,” says Egerton, who was recently nominated for a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of John. “Sometimes, even now, he can be uncertain of himself, even with all of that massive success and all of those accolades, all that universal acclaim.”
He adds, “It’s a weird kind of duality. He can be incredibly kind of gregarious and confident, but in the same instant he can also seem very vulnerable and shy.”
Egerton, 31, says that back when he was auditioning for the role, John’s opinion was the only one that mattered. The good news was, John — who had already been a fan of Egerton’s — gave his blessing soon after he heard him singing.
“He knew I could sing, but he hadn’t heard me,” says the Welsh star, who first rose to fame in 2014’s Kingsmen: The Secret Service, just two years after graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. (He also portrayed a Gorilla with a golden voice, singing Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” in the animated film Sing.)
The two went to Abbey Road studios to try out a few songs, and as Egerton says, “It was off to the races from there.”
Though Egerton grew up loving Elton John’s music, he says the greatest part of playing the role was that John is such a “fascinating character.”
“The transformation he goes through, the character in that story, in the script, from shy, retiring plump teenager to Rock God, to midlife addict and someone who was incredibly jaded and angry… it was just such a great acting challenge because he has three or four versions of who he is in the first half of his life.”
As for the recent awards nominations? Egerton still can’t quite believe it. “It feels like something that happens to other people,” he says. “It’s very surreal, but I’m very very pleased to be part of it.”