Taron Egerton has said he hopes the LGBT community will “accept” his portrayal of gay icon Elton John in the upcoming musical biopic Rocketman.
The Welsh actor told GQ he “approached [the role] wholeheartedly” and praised the spirit of “inclusiveness” among queer audiences.
Egerton was cast as the singer in the summer of 2017, after the likes of Justin Timberlake and Tom Hardy were initially in the frame.
He had previously sung Elton John’s 1985 hit I’m Still Standing in the animated musical Sing, in which he played a teenage gorilla.
Egerton has the singer’s approval and recently sung alongside him at a party in Los Angeles, but questions have been raised around whether a straight man should be playing such an iconic gay character.
The 29-year-old said: “I’ve approached it wholeheartedly and I hope that for that reason people accept me [as Elton].
“The LGBTQ community has always been about inclusiveness, hasn’t it? Not about ‘we’re here, you’re there’. In fact, if you want to come in, come on in.”
Egerton also said it was significant that many of the most famous queer icons in music, like John and Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, were at their height decades ago.
“It was a fairly revolutionary time,” he said. “Men were more outlandish. We didn’t have role models like that when we were growing up.”
Controversy recently flared over rumours that a scene of intimacy between John and a male partner had been cut from the film, but Egerton said it was “desperately important” not to shy away from his character’s sexuality.
“It’s a studio movie. It’s Elton John. We’ve got to own that. I don’t care how well the film does in Russia,” he said.
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Rocketman will be released into UK cinemas on 24 May.