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Justin Timberlake and Taron Egerton

This weekend’s Rocketman stars Taron Egerton as music legend Elton John in the musical fantasy film from director Dexter Fletcher. Egerton has already drawn rave reviews for his performance and how he completely becomes Elton John, right down to doing all the singing in the film. It sounds like it was a role Egerton was born to play and it would be hard to imagine anyone else in it. However, Taron Egerton wasn’t the only actor who could have played the flamboyant superstar.

It turns out that Justin Timberlake was once considered for Rocketman’s Elton John; the reason being that he already portrayed Elton John in the music video for Elton John’s 2001 song “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore.” That performance is why JT was among the names Elton John was looking at to play him in the film, but as Elton John’s husband and Rocketman producer David Furnish explained, the idea never got far:

But we never formerly approached Justin because we weren't ever at a stage where it was the right time to approach him. But he did an amazing job in the video. He put on a prosthetic nose, and it turned out to have been some really interesting acting work as well.

The video for “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore” stars Justin Timberlake as Elton John at the height of his popularity in the 1970s and shows Elton John going through hair and makeup, making his ways through throngs of adoring fans and going to a lavish party. The former NSYNC singer wears a prosthetic nose in the video and looks nothing like the JT we are used to seeing.

Justin Timberlake’s appearance in that video is what inspired Elton John to consider him as a candidate to play him in Rocketman. The video was an inadvertent proof of concept for the casting and good enough that David Furnish and Elton John thought Justin Timberlake could portray Elton in a full feature. But as David Furnish told The Hollywood Reporter, despite thinking of him for the Rocketman role, they never actually approached Justin Timberlake about it.

So although Justin Timberlake was the first name on Elton John’s list to play him, JT was never offered the role in Rocketman. The reason for that seems to be that when the idea came up, it wasn’t the right time to reach out to Justin Timberlake. It’s not entirely clear what that means, but it sounds like the development of the film simply wasn’t far enough along where it would make sense to start any sort of casting.

Still, it provides another fascinatingly curious casting ‘what-if?’ much like what would Bohemian Rhapsody have looked like with Sacha Baron Cohen and not Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. You can get an idea of how Justin Timberlake might have been in Rocketman in the video for “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore” below:

This music video and the obvious fact that Justin Timberlake has the requisite singing chops made him an obvious candidate to play Elton John in Rocketman, but he wasn’t the only name considered. Taron Egerton was offered the role only after actor Tom Hardy, who was first attached, dropped out.

Despite these interesting bits of ‘what-if?’ casting, it seems that the right person got the role. The reactions to Rocketman are hugely positive with a large amount of the praise going to Taron Egerton’s performance, where he proves you don’t have to be a former boybander to know how to sing.

Rocketman takes flight in theaters this weekend. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to see all of the biggest movies you can look forward to this summer.

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