Elton John’s ‘Rocketman’ Trailer: A Scene-by-Scene Breakdown
Rocketman's full-length trailer and the two teasers reveal some of the key moments in Elton John's life that will be part of the "epic musical fantasy" that opens on May 31. Taron Egerton stars as the rock legend. We outline a scene-by-scene breakdown of the real-life events that inspired the upcoming movie below.
1. Playing in Bluesology
As a teenager, Reginald Dwight formed a band called Bluesology that, by the mid-'60s, was backing American soul musicians playing in London. The trailer implies that Dwight learned about performing by studying their approach to showmanship.
2. Reginald Dwight Becomes Elton John
After being told by a soul singer that he has to "kill the person you were born to be in order to become the person you want to be" -- as well as by a woman who says Reginald is her grandfather's name -- Reginald Dwight comes up with a new identity in the late '60s. He tells his band he's thinking of changing his name to Elton, which invites a protest from saxophonist Elton Dean. He would get his last name from Bluesology singer Long John Baldry. Reginald Kenneth Dwight legally became Elton Hercules John in early 1972.
3. Elton John Meets Bernie Taupin
In 1967, Elton John met Bernie Taupin (Jaime Bell) after they both responded to an advertisement from Liberty Records calling for songwriters. John was given an envelope full of Taupin's poems after telling the man behind the desk that he couldn't write lyrics. After reading them, John contacted Taupin. "I like your lyrics," John tells his future collaborator in the movie. "I can hear the whole tune in my head. It was all there. I could sing the notes." Taupin has since penned the words to nearly every song John has recorded.
4. Writing "Your Song"
One scene shows John taking Taupin's words and creating their breakthrough hit, "Your Song," while sitting at the piano. Throughout their partnership, the two have always worked separately, with Taupin sending John his lyrics and John seeing what chords and melodies they evoke.
5. Meeting John Reid
Elton John met John Reid (Richard Madden) at a Christmas party for Motown, where Reid worked in the record company's U.K. office. "You can be the best-selling artist in America if you desire," Reid tells him in the trailer. For the next five years, the two were a couple as John kept his sexual orientation a secret from the public. Reid was John's manager until 1998, when John fired him amid accusations of embezzlement.
6. The U.S. Debut at the Troubadour
On Aug. 25, 1970, shortly after the release of his self-titled second album, bassist Dee Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson took to the stage at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. Introduced by Neil Diamond, John floored the crowd, which included such luminaries as Quincy Jones, Mike Love and Leon Russell. The critical praise that followed is widely credited with giving John the boost his career needed.
7. The Dodger Stadium Concerts
Los Angeles was the site of another of John's most famous concerts: his two-night stand at Dodger Stadium in 1975, the culmination of a week in the city that was officially dedicated to him. Promoting Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, John performed in a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform and cap customized with sequins and his first name and number 1 on the back. Tennis legend Billie Jean King came out to sing background vocals on "Philadelphia Freedom," which was written in honor of the World Team Tennis franchise she coached.
8. Elton John Attempts Suicide
Shortly after the Dodger Stadium shows, John reportedly attempted to kill himself. "As friends and family lounged by the pool at Elton's Benedict Canyon home," Elizabeth Rosenthal wrote in His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John, "[John] appeared in a terrycloth robe and announced, 'I have taken 85 Valiums. I shall die within the hour.' He threw himself into the water, then struggled to come to the surface. Caleb Quaye later remembered the arrival of an emergency medical team to pump the pianist's stomach." The trailer shows John collapsing into a pool and also being rushed on a gurney with an oxygen mask around his nose. In an eerie coincidence, earlier that year he released "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," which was inspired by a 1968 suicide attempt.
9. "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"
One of the recording sessions depicted in Rocketman shows John and a woman singing together. Based on their outfits, it appears that they're recreating the video for "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," John's smash hit duet with Kiki Dee from 1976.
10. Marriage to Renate Blauel
Even though Rocketman claims its focus is on John's "breakthrough years," his 1984 marriage to Renate Blauel (Celinde Schoenmaker), a German recording engineer, is included in the movie. The two split in 1988, the same year he said he was “comfortable being gay.”