Richard Madden says casting by sexuality ‘a terrible route to go down’

Reiss Smith May 6, 2019
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Richard Madden in a suit

Richard Madden attends the TIME 100 Gala Red Carpet. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty for TIME)

Rocketman actor Richard Madden has given his take on the debate over straight actors playing gay roles.

Madden plays Elton John’s lover and manager John Reid in the biopic, which will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 16.

The casting of two straight actors—Madden and Taron Egerton (John)—in gay roles drew criticism from parts of the LGBT+ community

Addressing the controversy, Madden told The Guardian: “It’s a really terrible route to go down if we start restricting people’s casting based on their personal lives.

“We have to focus more on diversity and having everyone represented, but I’m also a firm believer in the best actor for the part.”

“We have to focus more on diversity and having everyone represented.”

—Richard Madden

The film follows John’s rise to fame through the 1970s and 80s with “fantasy musical” numbers, lavish visuals and suitably retro costumes.

“A double-breasted suit and a big Cuban heel,” Madden recalled.

“I loved those heels, in the end. I felt pretty sharp. They gave me a bit of a wiggle.”

Taron Egerton reveals Rocketman gay sex scene with Richard Madden

Egerton also touched upon his and Madden’s casting in an interview with Attitude, released on April 15.

He told the magazine that he is “proud and privileged” to play John, who came out as bisexual in 1976 and as gay 1992.

Taron Egerton and Richard Madden as Elton John and John Reid in Rocketman
Taron Egerton as Elton John and RIchard Madden as John Reid in Rocketman. (YouTube)

“It’s easy for me to sit here as a white heterosexual man and say I should be able to play a part I want, but I completely understand why a gay actor would feel that this is an opportunity for which they would be better suited,” he said.

“I want to live in a world where people are excited about playing people who are different from themselves, and I believe that there is something inclusive and progressive about that.”

“I completely understand why a gay actor would feel that this is an opportunity for which they would be better suited.”

—Taron Egerton

Egerton confirmed that he and Madden filmed “electric” love scenes, showing John losing his virginity to Reid.

“They were falling in love and it’s beautiful because it should be. We didn’t want to play like they were a couple who were eventually going to fall apart, we wanted to play it like two guys in their early twenties who are falling in love and who are incredibly sexually attracted to each other,” he said.

“I don’t really know how much further we could have gone.”

In March, the film’s director Dexter Fletcher was forced to deny that the sex scene had been cut so that the film could achieve a lower age rating.

Taking to Twitter on March 22, he wrote: “Seeing much speculation about ROCKETMAN!! That’s good! It’s still unfinished so it’s nothing but rumours.”

More: Elton John, richard madden, rocketman

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