Sex, Drug Scene Expected to Earn Elton John’s ‘Rocketman’ an R Rating
When the Elton John biopic Rocketman is released in theaters in May, it's possible that it will arrive with an R rating in the U.S. Sources close to the film say that Paramount is unhappy with one particular scene that features drug use and homosexual sex that could prove to be responsible for the rating.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the movie received high marks during a test screening last week, but also that the studio asked director Dexter Fletcher to trim a love scene between John (Taron Egerton) and his then-manager and boyfriend John Reid (Richard Madden), which, they say, "has the F-word several times and includes brief rear nudity, and someone snorting cocaine."
Fletcher has denied that the studio has intervened, tweeting, "Seeing much speculation about Rocketman!! That’s good! It’s still unfinished so it’s nothing but rumors. It has and always will be the no holds barred, musical fantasy that Paramount and producers passionately support and believe in. See for yourself May 24."
As Variety reports, 15 minutes of Rocketman were shown to an audience at Lonndon's Abbey Road Studios yesterday (March 22), with Egerton addressing the audience afterwards. He praised the rock legend, whose Rocket Pictures produced the film, for wanting a warts-and-all portrayal.
“The movie begins with Elton marching into rehab," Egerton said, "in a real bad way – sweaty, grinding his teeth,… and that’s our jumping off point for the film, and we learn about his life through him recounting his experiences from this therapy room.”
“For him to come at this from a standpoint of ‘I’m going to show everyone myself at my most vulnerable and my most broken and damaged,’" he continued, "I think that quality of bravery and lack of concern with how one comes across is quite unusual actually, and it is right at the heart of what makes Rocketman quite special, because Elton gave me the license to go and make him look quite ugly at times and that was always very important to me."
But even with the scene between Elton and Reid causing controversy in the run-up to the film, Egerton noted that the real love story in the movie is "between Elton and Bernie Taupin, and the incredible music they have produced over the past 50 years. Although Elton puts his relationship with Bernie front and center constantly, he is the unsung hero of all of those songs that we all know and love. So this movie, quite rightly, is about a friendship and a writing partnership as much as it is about this icon we all know and love.”