Dexter Fletcher has explained why David Furnish does not feature in the biopic about his husband Sir Elton John.
Rocketman follows Sir Elton as he meets his collaborator Bernie Taupin and through his big break in the US, as well as his struggles with addiction and relationship with manager John Reid.
The film stars Taron Egerton as Sir Elton, and the performance has landed him Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award nominations.
Asked if it was ever discussed whether the singer’s relationship with Furnish, with whom he now has two sons, would be part of the story, Fletcher told the PA news agency: “No is the short answer… what is compelling in a drama is the struggle, is the fight, and not say that being happy is boring, but cinematically it is not as (compelling).
“We didn’t want the film to outstay its welcome and he (Sir Elton) is a young boy, he’s not very happy, he finds music and love and success, and he’s happy and then those things become a complete burden and he’s unhappy, he becomes an alcoholic and he gets better again, he’s happy.
“OK he’s happy, he’s happy, he’s happy, and it gets to a point where you have to go ‘OK, where is the line?’”
The film does include text on screen before the credits that refers to Sir Elton’s marriage and children, and Fletcher said: “His love with David and their family, that is beautiful, and I think that is why we said we should acknowledge it, because it is very important.
“The audience see the benefits of him getting back up, but because we’ve done two hours, people would be chewing up the upholstery if we had gone and made it four hours.”
Furnish is a producer on the film and Sir Elton is an executive producer. Discussing whether the film would have been different if that had not been the case, Fletcher said: “I don’t think it would have been as authentic in its way.
“I think he has this authenticity and the agenda is to be authentic, not to hide anything, that is not in his nature, there was no corner where I couldn’t shine a light.
“I only had two hours to do it, so it’s a lot of light to fit in in that two hours, but fortunately I was dealing with subject matter where he was like ‘Yeah, yeah, that’s OK, what do you want to know?’
“The first lunch I sat down with him, we were meant to be an hour and we were there four hours later, because he just was incredibly accessible and I think he knew and understood that there were a lot of questions to ask, but it was all in pursuit of authenticity and truth, and that is what Taron’s strength in the role is.
“I’m sure it would have been different if he weren’t as involved.
“Other people protect someone’s legacy. It’s like Bohemian Rhapsody (Fletcher stepped in to finish the Freddie Mercury biopic, taking over from credited director Bryan Singer), the people who were making that film are people who love him, but he’s no longer around to contribute so it has to be managed through their desire to protect him, and maybe that is not always as exposing.
“We can be honest about ourselves but maybe other people around us who love us protect us more.
“Love is about wanting to protect people and that can manifest itself in different ways, I think that is why Bohemian Rhapsody is a bit of a softer film in a way, because Freddie is not around to defend himself, whereas Elton is.”
Rocketman is out now on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download.