Taron Egerton‘s commitment to Elton John didn’t wrap with Rocketman — and the affection between the actor and rock star clearly goes both ways, from gushing interviews about each other to pet nicknames.
“I’ve never felt so devoted to something over such a protracted period of time,” Egerton tells EW in a new interview about his performance in Rocketman for The Awardist podcast, premiering Tuesday. “And then to have this extraordinary friendship come out of it as well — I can’t tell you how weird it is to become so close to someone that you portray.”
In recent months, as awards buzz about his performance has grown, Egerton and John’s paths have crossed many times. Egerton even joined the legendary rock star on stage at Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre to belt out a couple of duets before a sold-out crowd.
Another extension of that close relationship was Egerton’s 11-hour unabridged audiobook narration of John’s first memoir, Me, which was released in October. The book covers John’s tumultuous life in far deeper detail than Rocketman — and improbably includes even more dramatic highs and lows than the film.
“I was really lucky in that Elton gave me the chapters that were finished before we started shooting,” Egerton says. “That was a huge source of anxiety, having those in my carry-on.”
For the audiobook recording, which Egerton says took “tens of hours,” he stuck close to his approach for the film, aiming less for an impression of John and more an homage. “I said, ‘Look, do you want me to sort of be you and try and emulate you?’ And he said, ‘No, darling, just read it.'”
Among the stories told in the memoir is how John and many of his closest friends assigned drag names to each other back in the 1970s — John was Sharon, his boyfriend/manager John Reid was called Beryl, Rod Stewart was Phyllis, Freddie Mercury was Melina.
And somewhere in the three-plus years that Egerton and John have been collaborating, the Welsh actor was also bestowed by John his own honorific drag name. “I think that’s how you know he really likes you,” Egerton says. “My drag name is Blodwyn and my surname is Campervan.”
Egerton’s name is inspired by the actor’s Welsh roots — Blodwyn is a derivative of the Welsh word for flower, he explains — and his love of taking vacations in a small RV with his girlfriend. “Elton’s very keen that the stress not be on camper van. It’s on camper van, at the end.”
It wasn’t sufficient to simply receive or use the nickname in conversation — Egerton felt compelled to try it out as well.
“I went to stay with him a few weeks ago in his place in the South of France,” Egerton says. “And after he went to bed I found his Polaroid camera — and I borrowed my girlfriend’s clothes and I dressed up as what I imagined Blodwyn Campervan might be, and took some photos of me and my girlfriend. She drew a mustache on herself. So — we both cross-dressed for Elton and David [Furnish]’s amusement, and put it their guest book before we left.”
John and Furnish’s reaction to the unexpected present? “They loved it,” Egerton says.
The Awardist podcast returns for a new season on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Subscribe and listen to Egerton’s full interview plus the EW team’s rundown of early contenders for Golden Globe and Academy Awards on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or here at EW.com.
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