We still don’t know much about the musical performances planned for Sunday’s Academy Awards, but when Elton John takes the stage to sing, there’s one person who definitely will not be on hand to duet: Rocketman star Taron Egerton.
“Taron finished his Rocketman journey at the BAFTAs,” said David Furnish, Rocketman producer (and John’s husband), during a press preview Thursday for the couple’s annual Oscars viewing party. Egerton, who won a Golden Globe for his role in the biopic and was also nominated for a SAG Award, first publicly performed with John at the fundraiser in 2019, where they sang “Tiny Dancer” together.
“Taron has worked so hard, right up until now, which we’re so grateful for,” Furnish told EW. “He has more work to do, he’s had a raft of really fantastic offers. I think he’s earned his place to retire from the Rocketman promotional train. And he’s a lifelong friend now. The relationship he and Elton have is very profound and very deep, and our sons adore Taron. They haven’t seen the film — they’re not old enough — but Taron for them is very, very special.”
Last year’s gala raised more than $6 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, a figure Furnish hopes to beat this weekend. Among the art that will be auctioned off to help meet that goal is a photo taken by the late Terry O’Neill that was used on the cover of John’s memoir.
As for what will happen when John takes the stage — is it too much to hope it somehow involves Janelle Monae? — there are a few classic Elton moves we can definitely expect.
“There’s been all the planning that’s gone into the staging and the rehearsals,” Furnish revealed. “He’s performing live with a band and backup singers — and he needs a couple of outfits to wear, one onstage and one after.”
And then they have to leave, and quickly, in order to make it to their own event in West Hollywood, where Queer Eye‘s Bobby Berk will be helping to host the party and British singer-songwriter Sam Fender will perform. “We hate to snub the Governors Ball, but this is much more important,” Furnish said, “and I’m sure the people at the Academy understand that. We’ve lived symbiotically for 28 years, having our fundraiser on Academy night, and we’re grateful for the profile they give us.”
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” John’s fourth Oscar-nominated song, plays over the credits of Rocketman and was co-written by longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin — unlike his 1994 win for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King, which John penned with lyricist Tim Rice. (They were nominated three times in the same category that year, competing against their own “Circle of Life” and “Hakuna Matata.”)
After winning the Golden Globe for Best Original Song last month, John was giddy about his and Taupin’s first big award in 50 years of collaboration. “It’s my first time I’ve ever won an award with him!” he said on stage. “We never won a Grammy!” At the Oscars, they’re up against songs from Toy Story 4, Frozen 2, Breakthrough, and Harriet.
“I would love to see Elton and Bernie walk in the door of our party with an Oscar,” Furnish said. “It’s not about Elton getting the recognition — he’s had all the recognition in his life that he needs. It’s about what can you do with that moment, and how can you turn that into something that can save people’s lives and bring communities together in the fight against HIV.”
In 1994, Furnish was shooting Tantrums & Tiaras, a candid documentary about his then-boyfriend Elton John’s legendary temper. The film included footage of the singer watching the majority of the telecast from his trailer outside the venue — and that’s the couple’s plan again this year. “It’s a live broadcast to 2 billion people globally, so I respect his process,” Furnish said. “It’s hard to sit in an audience of an awards show and then go and perform. When we did it 26 years ago, and as an evening it worked well, so we’re going to replicate what we did then.”
Elton John biopic 'Rocketman' stars Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, and Bryce Dallas Howard.