Elton John explains the R rating for 'Rocketman'

News 28/05/2019

Elton John said that he had resisted many attempts to remove scenes of sex and drugs in his latest biopic film, 'Rocketman'.

Despite inclusions of fantasy moments in the film, John insisted that the film represents a realistic account of his musical career and personal life.

Motion Picture Association of America has given an R rating to the film although Paramount Pictures was reportedly hoping for a PG-13 rating which could have helped boost the box office numbers. However, John insists that the biopic will not be sanitised for numbers.

"I just haven't led a PG-13 rated life," he wrote in a new Guardian article. "I didn't want a film packed with drugs and sex, but equally, everyone knows I had quite a lot of both during the '70s and '80s. So there didn't seem to be much point in making a movie that implied that after every gig, I'd quietly gone back to my hotel room with only a glass of warm milk and the Gideon's Bible for company."

John also mentioned that it was important that his sons had a reasonably accurate depiction of their father's life to look at in 40 years or so.

In the '70s, John's drug use had spiralled out of control after earning his fame. All he really wanted was to be a successful songwriter. Pinpointing to a visit to the States in 1970, he recalls, "I came back from the States a month later with American critics calling me the saviour of rock' n'roll. Artists who were just mythic names on the back of album sleeves to me, people I absolutely worshiped, were suddenly turning up in the dressing room to tell me and Bernie [Taupin] they loved what we were doing: Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Leon Russell, the Band, Bob Dylan."

"I'd also lost my virginity, to a man – John Reid, who later became my manager – and come out as gay, at least to my friends and family. This all happened in the space of three weeks. To say it was a lot to take in is a terrible understatement."


Chaotic, funny, mad, horrible, brilliant and dark. It's obviously not all true, but it's the truth.

John also attempted to document his life during all this, "I kept a diary the whole time, and it's inadvertently hilarious," he said. "I wrote everything down in this matter-of-fact way, which ends up making it seem even more preposterous: 'Woke up, watched Grandstand. Wrote 'Candle in the Wind.' Went to London, bought Rolls-Royce. Ringo Starr came for dinner.' I suppose I was trying to normalise what was happening.

But the fact was, what was happening to me wasn't normal.

"I'm not complaining at all, but there was no way you could prepare yourself for it. I don't think any human being is psychologically built to cope with all that stuff happening to you that quickly, let alone me, with all my neuroses going back to my childhood."


John also noted that watching the difficult scenes in 'Rocketman' has not shaken him at all. "They're truthful and, unlike my childhood, it was my own fault," he accepted.

No one forced me to do drugs and drink.

"In fact, more than a few people tried to warn me I was out of control. It took a fairly Herculean effort to get yourself noticed for taking too much cocaine in the music industry of 1970s L.A., but I was clearly prepared to put the hours in."

Pleased with the entirety of the film, John had professed that Taupin did not like any of those scenes when he first read the script. "Then he saw it and completely got it. I don't think he actually burst into tears, but he was incredibly moved by it. He understood the point of it, which was to make something that was like my life: chaotic, funny, mad, horrible, brilliant and dark."

It's obviously not all true, but it's the truth.

'Rocketman' took $6.4 million during its opening weekend in U.K. and will hit NZ screens this 30th may.