“To have somebody make a movie about you must be even for Elton, quite weird. It's like you're putting your childhood on sale, all your misdemeanors, your success, and all of that. Given all of that, he was incredible, and a real generous spirit. I showed him the [costume] concepts, and he gave his seal of approval, which was the most important thing for me, because there's no point in doing a film about Elton John, if Elton John doesn't like what he's going to wear. He has been very particular, all throughout his life, about what he wears, so to have his validation was and is very important. So, all in all, I think it was a success, from that point of view.” — Julian Day
First working with Dexter Fletcher on Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, costume designer Julian Day subsequently reteamed with the director on Rocketman. Another musically-oriented feature, the film starring Taron Egerton examines the meteoric rise of English singer-songwriter Elton John, as well as the personal and professional challenges he confronted during his ascent.
Conceived as a musical fantasy, rather than a straight-up biopic, Rocketman gave Day license to take some liberties with where certain costumes appeared in the arc of John’s life. The Paramount Pictures title ultimately became one of the designer’s favorite projects, given the “totally outrageous and fantastical” approach he could lean into with his work.
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
In preparation for the shoot, Day was given access to John’s personal archive of '70s and '80s costumes, also engaging in “a lot of referencing from the internet” that informed his designs.
What the costume designer sought to capture with Rocketman was both the sheer exuberance and excess of John's world, and the alienation he often felt from those closest to him.
Illustration by Darrell Warner
An homage to The Wizard of Oz, the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” costume seen above speaks to one of the darker periods in John’s life. “I think it was almost the idea of looking for Oz,” Day reflects, “looking for this thing that didn’t exist, really.”
Touches inspired by the world of Oz include John's “Dorothy-blue” suit, silver shirt a nod to The Tin Man, and fake fur coat a representation of The Lion, as well as the ruby red crystals on his shoes and lapels.
Placing Swarovski crystals in this costume, and many others, Day was able to perfectly match the ruby red of Dorothy’s slippers, given that those, too, had Swarovski stones stitched in.
Illustration by Darrell Warner
The “Queen Elizabeth” ensemble illustrated above is seen on screen during John’s Australian tour.
While in reality, John wore a Louis XIV outfit for the concert in question, Day decided to reference Queen Elizabeth I with his design for the scene, to get at “the idea of this hardened character” that John had become during “this ball-busting period in his life.”
Taking Egerton through at least a dozen fittings for this costume, the designer compares the process of constructing it to that of erecting a building. “You start with the panniers underneath the underskirt—with the foundation, the structure underneath. So, we got these panniers, and almost a corset, and then you started adding on,” he shares. “It almost came by osmosis. “
Since 2016, Paramount Pictures has been interested in producing a new version of The Saint, which began as a series of novels before becoming a TV series starring future James Bond actor Roger Moore and then a big budget movie in 1997 starring Val Kilmer. Now Paramount has finally found its The Saint remake director: Dexter Fletcher, the filmmaker behind last year’s Elton John musical Rocketman.
Variety reports that Fletcher will take the reins on The Saint, which follows a British protagonist named Simon Templar, aka “The Saint,” a master of disguise who started out as a Robin Hood-type figure specializing as a thief and a con man, eventually evolved into secret agent during World War II, and later became more of an all-purpose adventurer. The character’s calling card is a stick figure with an angelic halo, which he would leave at the scene of all of his crimes – often after he’d robbed corrupted politicians or comically evil rich people so he could “redistribute” their ill-gotten wealth.
Author Leslie Charteris started writing The Saint novels back in the 1920s, and the character has since been a part of several radio, TV, comic book, and film adaptations. Seth Grahame-Smith Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter wrote this screenplay, and Lorenzo Di Bonaventura Transformers, G.I. Joe is producing along with Brad Krevoy, who produced a 2017 version of The Saint and likely retained the rights to the property. Legendary producer Robert Evans, who practically single-handedly saved Paramount from bankruptcy back in the 1970s and who died last October, will also receive a posthumous producer credit.
Variety’s report makes no mention of Chris Pratt, who was rumored to be in talks to star in this iteration back in 2018. As far as I’m concerned, that’s for the best: Pratt never struck me as the right fit for this “master of disguise” character, and now that Fletcher is involved, I can’t stop thinking about Taron Egerton in the lead role. He’s worked with Fletcher multiple times already on Rocketman and the underseen sports drama Eddie the Eagle, and from what we’ve seen thus far, Egerton is a much more adaptable actor than Pratt. No actors have been confirmed to be involved with this project yet.
There’s no word yet if Fletcher will tackle The Saint before or after his Dracula-adjacent Renfield movie for Universal, but we’ll keep you updated as soon as we learn more. In the meantime, check out the trailer for the 1997 Val Kilmer movie and the 2017 made-for-TV version of The Saint below: