How Taron Egerton Was Able To Transform Into Elton John

Before its eventual release in May 2019, "Rocketman," the fantastical biopic of Elton John's life, had been in development hell since 2001 (via Variety). Justin Timberlake and Tom Hardy were both in the running to portray the British rock star for a while, but when John had a cameo in "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," things soon changed when he and his husband, David Furnish, met Taron Egerton for the first time (via The Hollywood Reporter).

"Elton and I were like, 'Wow, this guy is really handsome and has a real striking presence,'" Furnish said. "We took a real shine to him." Following discussions with Matthew Vaughn, director of the "Kingsman" franchise and producer of "Rocketman," Egerton secured the role. "I knew how well Taron could sing and musicals are like action movies," Vaughn told Variety. "If you look at Tom Cruise, you know he's doing it."

John and Furnish soon realized they'd struck gold with Egerton. Furnish noted that "the most exciting thing" about working with the actor was watching him grow as an artist and marveling at the effort he put into fully transforming into John. But how was Egerton able to pull this off?

Taron Egerton sought advice from Jamie Foxx and Rami Malek

After being cast as Elton John, the first thing Taron Egerton did was speak to two actors with experience portraying music legends. Egerton met with Jamie Foxx and Rami Malek, who portrayed Ray Charles and Freddie Mercury in their respective biopics, "Ray" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" (via The Washington Post). After receiving pointers from the actors and their support, Egerton transformed himself into the rock star.

What followed was months of recording songs at Abbey Road Studios, learning John's every move through choreography lessons, and lots of wardrobe fittings (via The Hollywood Reporter). As a result, Egerton wore many of John's iconic costumes, which made him feel "very empowering and imposing," as he told Billboard. The actor "wanted to portray not only [John's] vulnerability but his strength, particularly his prowess as a stage performer." Egerton's confidence in "Rocketman's recreations of John's outfits certainly did just that.

What Egerton wasn't a massive fan of, however, was agreeing to completely change his hair for the role.

Egerton drastically changed his hairstyle for the role

Lizzie Yianni-Georgiou, hair and make-up artist on "Rocketman," told Variety that while Taron Egerton "was very up for dying his own hair and taking his hairline back," the actor was worried about what his hair would look like after production wrapped, as he explained to E! News. While he didn't enjoy having his hair shaved every day, he found "something quite exciting about transforming the way you look" and was glad it worked "really well in the movie."

Aside from transforming himself visually into Elton John, Egerton took singing and piano lessons to fully embrace John's talent. The actor wasn't "interested" in lip-syncing (via Collider), and neither did the rock star. "I thought it was really important that whoever played me didn't lip-sync," John wrote in a piece for The Guardian. "I wanted them to actually sing the songs, and Taron had already sung 'I'm Still Standing' brilliantly in the animated film Sing."

Egerton's take on John's vocals "really astounded" the singer when he watched "Rocketman" for the first time. "He isn't doing an impersonation of me, he doesn't uncannily look like me," he wrote. "Although they shaved his head and thinned out his hair to make it look like mine in the 70s, which he hated."

The actor spent a lot of time with Elton John and his family

When it came to piano lessons, Taron Egerton practiced for three months (via Billboard). While he doesn't play the instrument in the film, the work he did got him "familiar enough with the piano to be able to convincingly make it look like" he was playing, as he explained to Billboard. As his piano teacher, Michael L. Roberts told Forbes, Egerton hadn't "played a lick before we started working together."

In addition to reshaping his musical talents, Egerton had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Elton John and his family when the cameras weren't rolling, including John's children. Writing in the Guardian, John said that he invited the actor to his house to have a flick through his old diaries. "We had a takeaway curry and chatted, and I let him see them," the musician said. For Egerton, reading John's journals helped him get into the musician's headspace. "It's sort of like being transported back in time," the actor told People. "To see the ink that he wrote these songs in ... was just incredible."

Having spent so much time with the rock star, Egerton could see who John is — and was — as a person. "He has a real duality to him," the actor said. "He had this wicked sense of humor and he's very irreverent, but then he can be so, so sweet and vulnerable and kind. I think that's something we share."

Egerton was surprised at how far he got into character playing John

By the time "Rocketman" hit cinemas in May 2019, Taron Egerton was somewhat astounded at how much he dedicated himself to the role. "I've never poured so much of myself into something," he said during an episode of Entertainment Weekly's podcast, The Awardist. "I've never felt so devoted to something over such a protracted period of time." Putting that much effort into the portrayal was "scary and daunting" for the actor, "but also ultimately rewarding," as he summed up.

As for what Elton John thought of Egerton's portrayal, he almost mistook the actor for himself on multiple occasions. "That's the highest compliment I can tell you," John said during an interview with The Washington Post. He also wrote about the experience of "watching someone else pretend to be you on screen" for The Guardian, describing it as "a very weird, disconcerting" feeling, "like having an incredibly vivid dream." And despite Egerton being nervous about portraying the "darker" aspects of John's life, he learned that the musician is "very at peace with his struggles, and he recognizes that they form part of who he is," as the star told The Washington Post.