Q&A Interview with Elton John for “Gnomeo & Juliet” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
May 20, 2011 by Dennis Amith
With the upcoming release of “Gnomeo & Juliet” on Bli-ray and DVD on May 24th, J!-ENT will be featuring Q&A interviews with a few of the talent who lent their voices or music to the animated film.
In this second Q&A, Multiple Tony®, Grammy® and Oscar®-winning singer, songwriter, musician and humanitarian Sir Elton John SIR ELTON JOHN is one of pop music’s living legends. Over his five-decade career, he has sold more than a quarter of a billion records, and enjoyed more than 50 Top 40 hits. His success runs the gamut, from recorded music and the concert hall, to film and Broadway triumphs like “Aida,” “Lestat” and “Billy Elliot the Musical.” Billboard Magazine has ranked him the most successful male solo artist in history. His first effort writing music for a Disney animated film was “The Lion King,” a 1994 box-office hit that spawned the Tony®-award-winning Broadway show.
John has collaborated with Bernie Taupin for 45 years. Together, they’ve created numerous hit albums, including “Elton John,” “Madman Across The Water,” “Honky Chateau,” “Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “21 At 33,” “Too Low for Zero,” “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,” its sequel “The Captain & The Kid,” “Rocket Man – The Definitive Hits” and 2010’s “The Union,” among many others. For “Gnomeo & Juliet,” John serves as executive producer and provides the music.
What attracted you to taking part in “Gnomeo & Juliet”?
“Romeo and Juliet” is one of the greatest love stories of all time. And garden gnomes are huge in many countries throughout the world. We thought this would be a really good idea.
It’s very accessible and funny. And there’s a message in this film—the two gnome families, the Reds and the Blues, are diametrically opposed and are always at war with each other And in the end, peace is better than war. Two people fall in love and it brings about harmony and peace in the two warring factions.
Who will most appreciate “Gnomeo & Juliet”?
I don’t think you make this kind of movie for just a certain kind of audience. You make it for everybody. There are adult jokes in it; there are things kids will love. They will love the characters. They will love the gnomes, they will love the flamingo, they will love the frog. There are so many little things in it that kids will love. And it’s got very, very witty visual things in it.
What music did you contribute to the production?
There’s a lot of music from our catalog that’s being used—songs like “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” which is crucial in the lawn mower race along the back alley with Tybalt and Gnomeo. Plus, two brand new songs, including “Hello, Hello”—it’s the first time Gnomeo and Juliet get together. But
I think “Love Builds a Garden” is the best song in the movie. The flamingo explains to them that even though his garden is overgrown, it once flourished because the two people that lived there loved each other. Once they stopped loving each other, the garden died. But love can bring the garden back to life.
How did you approach the music for “Gnomeo & Juliet”?
It’s a collaborative experience. It’s one that I really like. I’ve always been a team player, I’ve always written with Bernie [Taupin]—he writes the lyrics and I write the melody—I like it that way. You get a good reaction and everyone’s happy and we can celebrate together.
How do you feel about the cast of “Gnomeo & Juliet”?
James McAvoy and Emily Blunt are two of the finest young actors out there. We were so lucky to get them, and they fit in perfectly. Michael Caine is a great friend of mine, one of the greatest actors out there, and I adore him—as Juliet’s father, he is perfect. We have a who’s who of actors and actresses in this movie: Maggie Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ashley Jensen, Matt Lucas—everyone.
Who is your favorite character?
I think Featherstone the flamingo and Nanette the frog could really steal the film. They’re really, really excellent characters played by great actors.
What can audiences expect from “Gnomeo & Juliet”?
We are so proud of the film. It’s been a labor of love, it’s full of Elton John/Bernie Taupin new music and old music, and I think it’s a really brilliant, funny movie. I hope it’s a big smash. I hope it will give people pleasure for the rest of their lives. We want to make a movie that people can look on in 12 years time and say, “Well that still holds up.” If we can do as good as Will [Shakespeare], we’ll be all right.
GNOMEO & JULIET on Blu-ray™, Blu-ray 3D™ and DVD May 24, 2011
The greatest love story ever told, starring…garden gnomes? In the upcoming “Gnomeo & Juliet,” Shakespeare’s revered tale gets a comical, off-the-wall makeover. Directed by Kelly Asbury (“Shrek 2”) and showcasing both classic and original songs by Elton John, the film features the voices of James McAvoy and Emily Blunt as Gnomeo and Juliet, who have as many obstacles to overcome as their quasi namesakes when they are caught up in a feud between neighbors. But with plastic pink flamingos and thrilling lawnmower races in the mix, can this young couple find lasting happiness?
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