The accuracy of the portrayal of Elton John’s parents in Rocketman has been slammed by his half-brother and questioned by the star who plays Elton’s mum in the movie.
“This coldness, it’s a million miles away from what Dad was like,” Elton’s half-brother Geoff Dwight told the Mail on Sunday of how Rocketman painted their father Stanley Dwight.
“He was a product of a time when men didn’t go around hugging each other and showing their feelings every minute of every day. But he had plenty of love in him for all of us.”
In Rocketman, Stanley (Steven Mackintosh) is portrayed as disinterested in his prodigy son’s career. In one scene, he shouts at Elton (Taron Egerton) for reading women’s magazines.
“Dad didn’t have a homophobic bone in his body. When Elton came out, he didn’t care … didn’t even mention it because it wasn’t important to him,” Mr Dwight said.
“Dad had a big heart. He was incredibly proud of Elton and everything that he achieved.”
Elton John, 72, is one of the executive producers of the Dexter Fletcher-directed Rocketman, and signed off on the film’s content. Its makers have said “art is about creating myths to reveal the truth”.
The portrayal of Elton’s mother Sheila Farebrother (Bryce Dallas Howard) has also come under scrutiny.
When Howard first read Lee Hall’s screenplay for Rocketman, she was “kind of shocked” by Sheila’s “indifference and strategic cruelty”.
“I questioned [the script],” Howard, 38, told Vanity Fair.
“Like, hmm, this feels like vilification, and I don’t know if this is accurate.”
So the actor researched Sheila’s character, and “in honestly every single conversation, it was confirmed that, yeah – this was a very dysfunctional relationship, and she was a broken woman.”
Elton’s parents married when he was six years old and “gave every impression of hating each other,” the singer wrote in The Guardian this year.
“My dad was strict and remote and had a terrible temper; my mum was argumentative and prone to dark moods. All I can remember are icy silences or screaming rows.”
Howard claimed a lot of Sheila’s “resentment” towards Elton came from him being gifted enough to play tunes on the piano as he heard them from when he was five.
“She did feel that her life was not her own. But it definitely crossed over – the cruelty and the kind of mean persona and, you know, just not showing love, ever.
“It makes me wonder if she wasn’t well, possibly. It had shifted into a place that was toxic and dangerous.”
Elton told The Guardian while he was closer to his mother than his father, “there were long periods when we didn’t speak”.
Sometimes that was as much because of Elton’s mood swings according to Stuart Epps, a British record producer who worked with him in the 1970s and claimed he once “fired” Sheila as his mother.
Towards the end of her life, Sheila reportedly didn’t speak to Elton for eight years over his husband David Furnish, 56, who she once slammed as “that f—–g thing”.
During the estrangement, she hired an Elton John impersonator for her 90th birthday. Shortly afterwards, she reconciled with Elton before dying a year later in December 2017.
Sheila reportedly left Elton two urns and two photos in her will. Much of her estimated $976,000 fortune went to her son’s long-time personal assistant Bob Halley.
Still, Elton oversaw his mother’s “perfect” funeral, saying on Instagram he chose the music.
“Thank-you for bringing me into the world and for all that you have done for me. Love, Elton.”