When Rocketman roars into Australian cinemas on May 30, director Dexter Fletcher’s name will take pride of place on the credits. It’s a big deal. Previously, Fletcher was called in to finish the film Bohemian Rhapsody after its own director Bryan Singer was spectacularly fired from the film with just weeks of production remaining. Details surrounding the reasoning remain sketchy – Singer reportedly had a bad reputation for not showing up on set and was warned by Twentieth Century Fox prior to his dismissal. Four Oscars and a spate of other awards later, Singer received all the glory to Fletcher’s executive producer credit.
Ironically, Fletcher was originally signed up as the movie’s director but creative differences led the studio to give Singer the role instead. Not since Ridley Scott’s decision to re-shoot all of Kevin Spacey’s scenes and replace him with Christopher Plummer in All The Money In The World had we seen a move like this. “It was an extraordinary set of circumstances,” Fletcher told IndieWire last year. “We got quite far down the line with my version of Bohemian Rhapsody, which unfortunately, never came to fruition. When there was a gap to be filled… the producers got in touch, because they knew I knew the material and I’d been involved.”
“They sort of said, ‘Look, this is a film that needs to be finished,’ and they trusted me with that responsibility. I came into the last few weeks of principal photography and editing and the bits and pieces like that.” He said he regarded his position as “watching what had been already created and being part of that” and “to not ignore… what had been already been achieved.”
“I think the film stands on its own merit, and that’s what really should be important, I think,” Fletcher continued. “I didn’t get into it for that reason… I was just proud to be able to be a part of it and help complete what I think is a great film. That’s what I got involved for.”
The difference on set between Singer and Fletcher was felt by the crew. “When Dexter came on and brought his energy, that guy, he must have ten coffees a day, because he is the most wonderful man,” said Joe Mazzello, who played Queen bassist John Deacon in the film. “He’s got the greatest heart and the biggest voice and just like made us pumped up and excited to come to work. … A lot of the scenes he did were some of the playful fun scenes near the beginning of the film and so it was really good. Everyone played to their strengths.”
Academy Award-winning actor Rami Malek has recently said working with Singer was “not pleasant, not at all.” In the end, Malek felt he had to take on the leadership role because Singer was not coming to the party. “It was an immense responsibility for me,” said Malek. “I felt like I was running on a highly confident level at times. And so we all raised our games, day in and day out.”
Now, Fletcher is adding the final touches to Rocketman, the Elton John biopic starring Taron Egerton. “He’s going to amaze people with not only his acting ability, but his singing ability as well,” said Fletcher. “I count myself as being extremely lucky and excited about both the projects.”
Privvy to a first look, we can vouch and say Rocketman will blow you away. Its scenes are a more abstract take on the feeling Elton’s music incited in people, when compared to Bohemian Rhapsody. And just like Malek, Egerton shines. Hello, awards season.
Rocketman is in Australian cinemas May 30.