Limping, but still standing, Elton John wows Cannes - Kogonuso


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May 16, 2019

Limping, but still standing, Elton John wows Cannes

Elton John landed at Cannes Thursday for the premiere of "Rocketman", the much-hyped warts-and-all movie about his wild rock 'n' roll years.

The 72-year-old British singer -- who once wowed his fans with handstands on his piano -- seemed to have difficulty walking as he posed for the paparazzi on the red carpet in a dark suit with "Rocket Man" written in silver sequins on the back.

Cannes director Thierry Fremaux had hinted that Sir Elton, who has admitted he nearly died from a rare viral infection two years ago, would play at the premiere.

"A piano will be hidden behind the curtain," he told reporters, with the star also rumoured to play afterwards at a private party on the beach at the French Riviera resort.

But on the night the singer -- who seemed in pain as he smiled to acknowledge the cheers of his fans -- instead took his seat amid a standing ovation.

He also seemed to wipe away a tear under his heart-shaped sequined sunglasses as his longtime lyricist and friend Bernie Taupin put a hand on his knee.

Earlier Sir Elton laughed off what looked like a problem with his hip when he appeared for a photocall in an eggshell-blue suit and matching diamond-encrusted glasses.

Instead, the showman joked with husband David Furnish -- who produced the film -- and stuck out his tongue at actor Taron Egerton who plays him.

The singer said last year he would be retiring from touring after a three-year farewell tour.

- 'Hard-hitting and truthful' -

Furnish said earlier that the movie, which was a decade in the making, is brutally frank about the singer's struggles with drugs, alcohol and most of all, his own sexuality.

"We didn't want to compromise the fact we felt it had to be hard-hitting and truthful," he said.

"I think we would have got a lot more interest (from studios)... if we'd been willing to produce a more sanitised version of Elton's life.

"That never appealed to Elton," he said.

"His life has had incredible moments of lightness but also moments of real darkness. We wanted to be very honest about those and not gloss them over."

Although the film is also directed by Dexter Fletcher -- who was drafted in to save the Freddie Mercury biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" -- and has a thumping jukebox soundtrack, the parallels end there, the filmmaker insisted.

That near-billion-dollar blockbuster was criticised for drawing a veil over much of the Queen frontman's private life, something that cannot be said of "Rocketman", Fletcher told AFP.

- 'The beauty to be honest' -

"Elton is a gay man and we know that, we also know Freddie was gay," Fletcher added.

The singer, who helped campaign for gay marriage, "gave us his blessing and the strength and the beauty to be honest. It's real".

While parts of Elton John's five-decade career was lived in a hazy whirl of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, he set up his AIDS foundation in 1992, months after his friend Mercury died of the disease.

It has since raised more than $400 million (357 million euros).

Fletcher said that despite the huge success of "Bohemian Rhapsody", his real passion was always for "Rocketman".

"This music is the best of the '70s and '80s," he said.

"I did what I had to do (on the Freddie Mercury film) but really my focus was always 'Rocketman'."

Fletcher said the film is not "an official biography," but instead an expression of John's own memories which, given his years of hard partying, were sometimes a blur.

"We are inside Elton's memories of his life. And memories are fallible... things get mixed up and confused," said the director, who played Baby Face in Alan Parker's children's classic "Bugsy Malone" as a boy.

"Rocketman" centres on the flamboyant performer's relationship with his lyricist Taupin, who is played by Jamie Bell of "Billy Elliot" fame.

British actor Richard Madden ("Game of Thrones" is his lover and manager John Reid, while Bryce Dallas Howard ("Jurassic World" is John's formidable mother, Sheila Dwight.

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