After months of rumors about who would play Elton John in a new biopic, Rocket Pictures and Focus Features revealed on October 23 that Tom Hardy was selected for the role of the legendary singer. After paying $10 million for the rights to make the picture, FilmDistrict will call the movie: “Rocketman.”
“Tom is a stellar talent who will add extraordinary depth and nuance in bringing Elton’s story to life,” Rocket Pictures CEO Steve Hamilton Shaw said in a press release. “We are excited to have such a gifted actor on board, and equally excited to be in the hands of Peter Schlessel and the entire Focus Features team.”
Scheduled for release in Fall 2014, the film will be helmed by director Michael Gracey and written by Lee Hall, the co-writer of “War Horse” and “Billy Elliot.”
According to FilmDistrict’s press release: “Much like the man himself, ‘Rocketman’ is a larger-than-life movie musical spectacle that tells the story of a child prodigy turned music legend. Elton will re-record many of his iconic hits to parallel the emotional beats of the film that will have audiences on their feet, singing along to his much loved music.”
Hardy has appeared in critically acclaimed films like “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “Bronson,” and “War.”
“Tom is quickly becoming known as one of the world’s most versatile actors, and like others at the top of their craft, he has proven his ability to transform himself completely into the character or subject found in the material,” said Schlessel. “We are confident that Tom will embody the physicality and spirit of Sir Elton. This, in conjunction with the creative team led by Michael and Rocket Pictures, will provide the foundation for something that will be a unique cinematic event.”
“It’s an intriguing possibility,” said writer Drew McWeeny in an op-ed piece for HitFX. “What I find most compelling about it is that Hardy seems like a guy who embodies a certain form of physical machismo, but who challenges that appearance at every turn.”
John himself has played a large role in the film process, viewing it as a “surreal look” at his life in the manner of “Moulin Rouge.”
John told the LA Times last year, when asked about who should play him, that he had a “wish list of people.”
“Number one on my wish list is Justin Timberlake, because he played me before in a David LaChapelle video of Rocket Man and he was superb,” said John.
With his five-decade career, the openly gay singer has sold over 250 million records and has received 6 Grammy Awards and an Academy Award, among other accolades. Ranked as the highest male solo artist on The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Artists, he has been a champion for the LGBT community, most notably with his current work with the Elton John AIDS Foundation.