The film Rocketman tells the often-sad story behind Elton John’s brash, bright stage persona. Long before he became Elton, Reginald Dwight struggled to find his own identity, as the movie shows. And in this exclusive deleted scene from Rocketman, we can see just what the stakes really were for him.
Elton’s talent was apparent from an early age — considered a child prodigy on the piano, he was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Academy of Music at the tender age of 11, as the movie shows. This clip shows Reggie (Taron Egerton) at the tail end of his time there, as he prepares for a major recital. When his teacher (Harriet Walter) calls him out for not focusing, Elton admits he’s not attending the recital, as his band’s going on tour.
The movie’s already established the child’s singular ability to play songs by ear after hearing them just once, so there’s no doubt about his musical genius. In the early musical number, "I Want Love," it’s also clear no amount of talent will win the budding musician his father’s attention or love. Still, with his grandmother’s help he pursues his talent in hopes of being loved, culminating in this moment, which was cut from the final film.
Though Reggie hasn’t yet formed his persona, he knows he doesn’t want to keep playing what he calls "dead people’s music," and argues with his teacher that, were the classical composers alive today, they’d be playing rock and roll as well. It’s clear his teacher cares for him; she knows what’s at stake and how few pub bands ever reach any kind of stability, forget acclaim. She’s also aware of Reginald’s unique talent, and fears submerging it in rock and roll music won’t highlight its brilliance.
The thing is, despite his lack of confidence, his lack of self and self-esteem, Reginald realizes the stakes too. "I love rock and roll!" he tells her, and means it. He’s willing to throw away years of training, practice, and the small amount of positive feedback in his life on a passionate gamble. She points out exactly how precarious it is and says she won’t allow it, but obviously, she couldn’t stop him.
Reggie’s walking away from his entire life up to this point, on the slim hope that he can make it in the world working at what he loves. As the rest of Rocketman shows, his sheer talent helped propel him, but even the road to success was difficult and painful. If he hadn’t walked away, Reggie wouldn’t hadn’t met Bernie Taupin and likely wouldn’t have become the Elton John we know today. But at this juncture in his life, there was no way for him to know any of his own future. All he had to go on was the life he had, the life predicted, and the life he wanted.
The scene was likely deleted as the stakes were implicit in other scenes, but this explicit moment details exactly what young Reginald faced when he took a step away from the known and towards his own dreams. Rocketman is out on Digital today and coming to Blu-ray/4K on Aug. 27.
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