In a run-up piece on Rocketman by Variety‘s Mark Malkin, producer Matthew Vaughn recalls how Tom Hardy was attached to play Elton John in an earlier incarnation.
Vaughn scoffed at Hardy’s idea to lip-synch John’s singing. Vaughn: “I feel like an idiot saying it now, but I said, ‘Nobody is going to watch a movie where the lead character is lip synching.’ Cut to Bohemian Rhapsody and me being proven wrong.”
Taron Egerton, who plays John in Rocketman (which is screening here on Friday morning) is a first-rate singer, but his John imitation (to go by the trailer) doesn’t quite get it — close but a degree or two removed from take-it-to-the-bank authenticity.
“I knew how well Taron could sing and musicals are like action movies,” Vaughn tells Malkin. “If you look at Tom Cruise, you know he’s doing it. I’m hoping people are going to lose their minds for Taron when they hear him sing.”
I’ve said this 16 or 17 times (and I realize that certain HE commenters will once again groan when they read this), but Rhapsody set the standard for absorption and believability because Rami Malek (who was lip-synching to a combination of Freddie Mercury and a gifted Mercury imitator) obviously sounded like the Real McCoy.
Vaughn is correct about action movies being like traditional musicals and vice versa, but only in the sense that musical and action sequences deliver a cathartic time-out from the narrative. Otherwise I don’t get how Rocketman, a rock-singer biopic as opposed to a characters-breaking-into-song musical, could be analogous to a Tom Cruise action film. Cruise is Cruise and his athletic derring-do is his own — he’s not portraying or offering a tribute to Jackie Chan.