Taron Egerton says he was nervous about ‘camping it up’ when playing Elton John

Taron Egerton at a screening of Rocketman at the MoMA, Celeste Bartos Theater on May 29, 2019 in New York City.

Taron Egerton has explained why he chose not to “camp it up” as Elton John in Rocketman.

When asked by British GQ what he was most worried about when he was first signed on to the film, Egerton admitted he has reservations about being a heterosexual actor in a gay role.

“There’s a certain amount of trepidation around playing a gay character when you’re a heterosexual.

“Because you don’t want that community to feel you’re doing some sort of caricature or something.

“I didn’t want to camp it up, because Elton is not a camp man. I knew quite acutely that wasn’t what I wanted to do.”

Even before the cameras were rolling, the British actor said he was worried about the reaction the casting would receive. Primarily, whether “it would be something that some people would take issue with”.

“But I also knew that the film was very, very celebratory about that side of the character. So I felt that, generally, people would be accepting,” he added.

Straight actors in gay roles attract controversy. 

The casting of two straight actors – Egerton and Richard Madden (John Reid) – in gay roles drew criticism from parts of the LGBT+ community.

Both actors have addressed the concerns, often taking different routes.

Madden stressed to the the Guardian earlier this year about the importance of on-screen “diversity”.

He said: “It’s a really terrible route to go down if we start restricting people’s casting based on their personal lives.

“We have to focus more on diversity and having everyone represented, but I’m also a firm believer in the best actor for the part.”

“We have to focus more on diversity and having everyone represented.”

—Richard Madden

Egerton also touched upon his and Madden’s casting in an interview with Attitude, released on April 15.

He told the magazine that he is “proud and privileged” to play John, who came out as bisexual in 1976 and as gay 1992.

“It’s easy for me to sit here as a white heterosexual man and say I should be able to play a part I want.

“But I completely understand why a gay actor would feel that this is an opportunity for which they would be better suited,” he said.

Rocketman follows Elton’s stratospheric rise, quickly soaring to become the fourth most financially successful LGBT+ film in histoty behind Bohemian Rhapsody, The Imitation Game and Philadelphia.