Sir Elton John is not just a music legend, an icon, but he is a very proud parent. Not just of his newborn son Zachary but of the birth of his project Gnomeo and Juliet, an animated feature which celebrated it’s world premiere over the weekend.
Gnomeo and Juliet is an utterly charming, totally amusing and delightful family film that features Elton John’s music, both new and old. The tale of potentially doomed gnome affair was actually a family affair, his partner David Furnish was one of the producers of the film with Elton John acting as an executive producer. And now their picture for children has so much more meaning, as they welcomed their own child into the world just four weeks ago.
We were thrilled to be able to sit down with Elton John – along with a crew of other moms - and talk about his film Gnomeo and Juliet, his precious new baby, his future career in children’s music, and his deep love of Runaway Bunny.
How fatherhood has changed his perspective on his work and projects:
It’s the icing on the cake. We had the baby on Christmas day. It was really an enchanting thing to happen. And also because the hospital was empty! Which meant I could go in there without being seen. We wanted to try to keep our surrogate protected. That was an act of very good fortune.
(Fatherhood) could do nothing but make my life better. And it (has) already, in just four weeks. I found with a newborn, that it’s very relaxing because basically they just need to be changed and burped and feed and read a story to. It is so beautiful. It is the most beautiful thing I could ever imagine. I have a huge responsibility. As a father – and David as my partner – we have a huge responsibility . The hardest thing to do in the world is to bring a child up properly. With enough love and discipline. And in this time in my life it’s the right thing to happen and I think artistically it will inspire me to probably write a lot of children’s songs (he says with a chuckle and sings) “I love you Zachary. You mean the world to me.” What can you say. I am the most blessed man in the world.
I have a wonderful partner, wonderful friends, wonderful family, a child, a career that seems to evolve. I’m so enthusiastic to listen to new things, wanting to do new things. I think I get that from my mother. My work ethic definitely comes from my mother. My musical talent comes from my father. And between the two of them they created this force that just wants to work hard and do new things and do well. And having a child on top of this. It does change your life. Every evening it’s bath time and story time and feeding time and changing time. That is sacrosanct to me now. We went out to dinner last night and we had to be late because I am not missing that. It’s very important. I want to spend as much time with him as I can.
On what movies, book and music he wants to share with his son:
There are some great things. The first story I read to him was Cinderella. When I was a child, the first animated films I saw was Snow White, Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp. Those are things that will never age. They’re magical. Just reading stories to him gives me a new appreciation…I never knew about children’s books before. The other night David read him Dogs Don’t Wear Sneakers, which was so fabulous. In England we didn’t grow up with Doctor Seuss, we grew up with Alison Uttley, Beatrix Potter, and now we’re reading him these American stories…David (to his partner in the back of the room), what was that book you read the other night that was so beautiful? Runaway Bunny! I loved, loved, loved it. Runaway Bunny could be my next musical. It is such a great story. It’s so loving and sweet. And I Love You This Much. I love that one.
I’d love to write a children’s album. It would be great. We put an ipod together for him. We choose lullabies, Chopin, Mozart but also things by Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, things that are beautiful, musical and are gentle. I would do a specific children’s record because now that I have one, it is very inspiring. You have to remember, I am the worst lyricist in the world and I would obviously need help, so if any of you (talking to the moms in the room) have any lyrics laying around…I’m sure you’ve been more inspired than even I have.
It’s something that changes the way you look at things. That’s the whole point of having a child. I’ve had an incredible life, I’ve experienced great joys, great sadness, great highs, great lows, I pulled myself together. I got sober. I got my self-respect back. I tried to make up for lost time by doing good things for other people. The only thing missing from my life was having a child. David and I talked about it much and decided to have one. And as much as I can teach my child many great things, he’s going to teach me a thousand times more about myself, what I need to do, how I need to look at things. I’ve never lived that life before. You mums know all about it. I’m a freshman in this game. I’m sure he will inspire me to do other things. To write instrumental music. To write children’s music. But he will inspire me. I just look at him and he inspires me. I just want to eat him. You can not not be inspired by having a child. And artistically you can’t either.
Gnomeo and Juliet opens Feb. 11th in theaters everywhere.
Check out this charming featurette about the film below!