Hollywood star Taron Egerton has responded to criticism over his casting as Sir Elton John – saying he “understands” why gay actors feel they would be better suited to the role.
The British actor, 29, plays the singer-songwriter in new movie Rocketman.
Some have said a gay actor should have led the film, which sees the famous singer grapple with his sexual identity.
Egerton told Attitude magazine: “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.
“The way I feel about it is that Elton asked me to play him in a movie about his life. I am proud and privileged to be playing this person who happens to be gay.
“I want to live in a world where people are excited about playing people who are different from themselves. I believe that there is something inclusive and progressive about that.”
Egerton also discussed his screen kiss with Bodyguard star Richard Madden, who plays lover and manager John Reid in the film.
“The rawness of that experience, the fear of that experience, but also the joy of the experience of Elton’s first kiss. It’s electric, it’s exciting, your stomach is doing somersaults,” he said.
“I treat it with the same love, care and affection I would as if it was my first experience of falling for somebody.
“We shot a scene where we are both naked on a bed and we are rolling around. I don’t really know how much further we could have gone.
“In the script, this is the scene of Elton losing his virginity and we wanted to try to do that justice.
“We wanted to play it like two guys in their early 20s who are falling in love and who are incredibly sexually attracted to each other.”
The film does not feature Sir Elton’s vocals.
“He wanted me to create my own take on it,” Egerton said of the Candle In The Wind singer.
“I don’t think he was interested in hearing someone do an impression of him.”