HFPA in Conversation: Taron Egerton, Finding Elton John’s Groove

by Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros May 29, 2019
Actor Taron Egerton

armando gallo/hfpa

Taron Egerton has been listening to Elton John since he was a kid.  So the Welsh actor knew he had something to offer in the role of the legendary musician in Rocketman.  “I was obviously phenomenally excited when I was approached to play Elton.  I always felt there was something of his mania and his sensitivity and his bravado that I felt I could bring to a performance,” Egerton tells HFPA journalist Greet Ramaekers.

He didn’t have a formal audition but his team filmed him performing some songs and sent it to Paramount, the studio behind the musical. “I suppose the work I’ve done before was the audition, particularly I think, anything that’s involved singing.  I sang the credit song for Eddie the Eagle and I also sang "I’m Still Standing" in Sing.”

Egerton describes himself as a passionate person who can sometimes be obsessive. “I believe that especially to play someone like Elton, who is all feeling and all passion, you have to really fall in love with the role.  So aside from all of the stuff that is the obvious work, the research, the reading, the watching of footage, I spent a long time just falling in love with him and his story really and making it feel important and very personal to me.  Because if you achieve that then what happens is when you get on set you feel things quite organically.  You have to be free to surprise yourself because that’s when things really happen.”

Regardless of all the homework, he felt insecure about himself on the first day on the set, at the music club the Troubadour. “I remember feeling completely terrified of just having to walk across the space and deliver this couple of lines because it was the first time I had to be him.  I remember thinking; you are an idiot, why did you think you could do this?  What nonsense narcissism led you to believe that you could play Elton John?”

He got over his fears. “Someone as expressive as Elton you have to find a freedom to be frankly, insane.  What he did was pioneering and revolutionary and one of a kind.  He was so free on stage.”

Listen to the podcast and hear how Taron’s first meeting with Elton John was; what are his favorite Elton John songs; when he started to feel comfortable singing Elton John’s songs; what moment he felt he looked like Elton John; what he learned about Elton John’s addictions and his personality; how was it filming a sex scene with Richard Madden; why Bryce Dallas Howard started to fiddle with his hair and what was his reaction; why his mom gave him the name Taron; what kind of family he comes from; what was his childhood like; what being from Wales means to him; when he knew he was going to be an actor; what kind of memories he has from the TV show Smoke; how was his casting process for Kingsman: the Secret Service; how  he maintains his six-pack; how he found ski jumper Michael Edwards’ character in Eddie the Eagle; what fame means to him; why nature is important to him; how he spends his free time and when he likes to be stylish.