IN CONVERSATION WITH TARON EGERTON
Interview by Jana Letonja
Taron Egerton is an award-winning actor whose versatile and charismatic performances continuously capture audiences around the world. He won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his portrayal as the iconic singer Sir Elton John in Dexter Fletcher’s ‘Rocketman’ for Paramount Pictures. For this performance he was also honored with the Actor of The Year Award at the Hollywood Film Awards and took home the Virtuoso Award at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. Taron was most recently seen in the biographical drama ‘Tetris’, which was released on Apple TV+ at the end of March.
Taron, you just starred in the biographical drama ‘Tetris’, which delved into the legal battles that took place during the Cold War over ownership of the game, and focused on the powerful dynamic the game had in the industry while uncovering historical circumstances in world politics. How would you describe this bigraphical film’s portrayal of the ownership battle and the game’s impact on the society?
I don’t think the movie is overtly political. Sure, it’s set during a moment of political interest that happened during the final moments of Soviet Union, but it’s really just a story of two men from two very different places bonding over a shared love of gaming. Tonally, it’s very popcorn and I would describe it as a piece of entertainment rather than anything with a great deal to say about the state of the world then or now. It’s a crazy story and one worthy of depiction simply to prove that the truth is often as engaging as fiction.
In the film, you portray Henk Rogers, the Dutch-born video game entrepreneur who introduced the world to Tetris. How would you say he dealt with the whole situation and what could he maybe do differently or better?
I think he could have been less naive, but then he probably wouldn’t have done what he did. His flaws are also what makes him appealing. He’s a little naive, maybe even foolish and cavalier, but those are also the reasons you love him. He puts his goal ahead of his own wellbeing and that’s quite a charming quality. I suppose you could also say he slightly neglects his responsibility as a father and that is certainly an area for improvement.
pants PAUL SMITH
You’ve played in quite some biographical films. Which one stands out the most among them and why?
‘Rocketman’ will always be a beautiful, insane chapter in my story. Not only did I get to portray someone so iconic, but I think it’s a solid movie and I’m proud of it. It’s not often things come together in the way that project did. I’ll always cherish those memories.
How did it feel seeing a standing ovation at the premiere in Cannes and then being acknowledeg for your performance with all of these awards?
Cannes was one of many extraordinary moments. The movie played well and people were moved. So was Elton, so was I. It was the culmination of two years work. I think what felt special about ‘Rocketman’ was that people immediately took it to their hearts. It became some people’s favourite movie. I’m really hoping ‘Rocketman’ will stand the test of time. The award recognition is always lovely, although I am trying to set less store by it as I get older. I don’t think it’s healthy to be too focused on that side of the business. Still fun though.
With this film, you also revealed your multifaceted talents when you recorded the original song for the film with Sir Elton John. Honestly, how nervous were you to record a song and even more so, to record a song with the legendary Elton himself?
I wasn’t nervous doing that. Singing live I was, but the recording of that song was fine. I’m just very proud to have dueted with him.
Last year you produced, for the first time, Apple TV+’s limited series ‘Black Bird’, an adaptation of the novel ‘In with The Devil: A Fallen Hero, A Serial Killer, and A Dangerous Bargain for Redemption’. How was it being in the role of a producer for you? Is producing and also directing something that we’ll be seeing more from you in the future?
Yes, I just optioned a YA novel called ‘Happyhead’. I intend to try and bring that to the screen over the next couple of years. I feel like some of the skills that are required for acting are just storytelling instincts and I’m very keen to see whether I can transfer that instinct. I want to make things from the ground up. I think it must feel so creatively satisfying. I love the collaborative nature of what I do, but I’d like to see how near to the creative center of things I can get without messing it up.
You also starred in ‘Black Bird’, besides producing it, and the critics praised your performance as ‘complex and wrenching, and nearly flawless’. Where do you draw your inspiration from for your performances, besides from the scripts?
It’s always the script and ‘Black Bird’ was exceptional writing. I’m embarking on a new project with Dennis Lehane later this year and I cannot wait because his writing feels like driving a sports car. It’s like you are supercharged. When I read a script, I feel a rhythm for the character, a tone, a music almost and then you try and manifest that physically.
You started acting when you were 15. What was behind your decision to start a career in this industry?
I can’t do anything else. I love stories and I love making things. I was always going to do something that involved making things. The only downside of acting is you can’t act in a vacuum when you’re home alone. I often wish I was a musician or made pots or something. Something that would give me day to day creative satisfaction as opposed to the intermittent nature of acting. I think that’s probably why I want to get involved with producing. I should probably just get a hobby.
Next up, you have Netflix’s ‘Carry On’ and Apple TV’s crime series ‘Firebug’ coming up. What can you share about these two projects?
‘Carry On’ is a story that takes place over one day. I play a TSA who has a truly shit day at work. I’m not sure I can say much more than that.
top HUGO BOSS
talent TARON EGERTON @taron.egerton
photographer AGATA SERGE @AgataSerge
stylist MONTY JACKSON @mrmontyjackson
groomer SONIA LEE @sonialeeartistry
set Design LUCY HOLT@theninjaatelier
stylist assistants JAKE MITCHELL, BYRON WILLIAMS @whyjakemitchell @king_biezzy_
1st lighting assistant VICTOR ISAAC ALVAREZ @victorisaacalvarez
2nd lighting assistant PAVEL NOSONOV @pahidza
producer ANNA MAKOVCHIK @annamakovchik
production assistant KATE BREGEDA @katebregeda
production UPRISING PRODUCTIONS @uprisingproductions_
studio HYPE STUDIOS @hypestudios.la
editor TIMOTEJ LETONJA @timiletonja