The Elton John biopic “Rocketman” will be launching into history this summer as “the first major studio to depict gay male sex onscreen,” according to The Hollywood Reporter (THR).
“Rocketman” made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival this week where it reportedly featured multiple love scenes between actor Taron Egerton (who plays Elton John) and actor Richard Madden (who plays the music icon’s first gay lover).
“There were multiple scenes that included men kissing, simulated oral sex and a steamy bedroom scene with both Egerton and Madden unclothed,” reports THR.
So what exactly sets the sex scenes in “Rocketman” apart from other movies like “Brokeback Mountain” or “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Call Me by Your Name” or even “Moonlight” (which featured a teenage boy sexually pleasuring another teenage boy on a beach)? THR says “neither were ever aimed at broad audiences like ‘Rocketman’ and were released by specialty labels — ‘Brokeback Mountain’ by Focus Features and ‘Call Me by Your Name’ by Sony Pictures Classics.” THR explored more of this complex history with major studios:
In the ’70s and early ’80s, gay male sex occasionally popped up in films from companies that might be comparable to a Paramount today. For instance, United Artists backed the 1980 Al Pacino thriller Cruising, about a serial killer targeting gay men. But in recent decades, the prospect of major studios depicting steamy gay sex has become a nonstarter. Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody didn’t feature any despite the fact that its protagonist, Freddie Mercury, was bisexual and died of AIDS-related complications. The 1982 Harry Hamlin starter Making Love also broke ground at the time for depicting a gay male couple.
Speaking with THR, the film’s star, Taron Egerton, said he could not understand all the hype around him kissing a man onscreen.
“Everyone is obsessed with it,” Egerton said. “For me, kissing a man onscreen is no less appealing than kissing a woman onscreen. I’m not in any way repulsed by the male form. It’s an uncomfortable thing regardless of who you’re with — it makes no difference as to your sexual preference.”
“Rocketman” reportedly received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival; Egerton told reporters that it moved him to tears. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the Freddy Mercury biopic from 2018, shocked the world by hauling in over $900 million in the box office. Not since 2004’s “Ray” and 2005’s “Walk the Line” has the musical biopic been such a financially successful bet. Egerton told THR that he’s “at peace with however much money it makes. But I hope it does really, really well. If it made half of [“Bohemian Rhapsody”], it would be terrific for my career.”
Both Egerton and Elton John rocked the Cannes Film Festival by performing a duet that the actor said felt deeply intimidating. “There’s really nothing more intimidating than performing in front of Elton,” he said. “I don’t think I could have done it if he was around a lot. But I think he knew that. He’s very astute in that way.”