“Some studios wanted to tone down the sex and drugs so the film would get a PG-13 rating. But I just haven’t led a PG-13 rated life,” John said in an article he wrote for the UK’s Guardian. “I didn’t want a film packed with drugs and sex, but equally, everyone knows I had quite a lot of both during the ’70s and ’80s, so there didn’t seem to be much point in making a movie that implied that after every gig, I’d quietly gone back to my hotel room with only a glass of warm milk and the Gideon’s Bible for company.”
He added: “The whole experience of watching someone else pretend to be you on screen, of seeing things you remember happening again in front of your eyes, is a very weird, disconcerting one, like having an incredibly vivid dream,” John said of the film. “And the story of how I ended up in a cinema, crying my eyes out at the sight of my family 60 years ago, is a long and convoluted one. And it begins, naturally enough, with a naked transgender woman with sparks flying out of her vagina.”
That woman is performance artist Amanda Lepore, who sparked his interest in a biopic. “If you were going to make a film about me, that would be the way to do it,” John wrote.
Although he claims to have turned down the titular role of Harold in Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude in 1971, John has a deep love of cinema. He had directors like Dave LaChappelle (Rize) and actors like Tom Hardy and Justin Timberlake at one point interested in the film.
John eventually got in touch with Taron Egerton, whom he had worked with on the Kingsmen: Golden Circle film.
“I gave my diaries to Taron to read when he took on the lead role in the film,” John wrote. “He came to my house, we had a takeaway curry and chatted, and I let him see them. I knew Taron was the right man when I heard him sing ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.’ I thought it was really important that whoever played me didn’t lip-sync, I wanted them to actually sing the songs, and Taron had already sung ‘I’m Still Standing’ brilliantly in the animated film Sing.”
A memoir on John’s life, Me, will be out in October.