Gnomeo & Juliet - Elton John
Elton John records the voice for his character © 2011 Miramax

This has been quite a year for Elton John and his significant other, producer David Furnish. The couple entered into a civil partnership in 2005, after 15 years together, and on December 25, 2010, through a surrogate, had a son, Zachary Furnish-John.

Their new movie, the animated Gnomeo & Juliet, which the couple produced through their company Rocket Pictures, along with Touchstone Pictures, will open on February 11th, featuring many old and new songs from Elton John.

Elton spoke with us of his personal experiences and how they have miraculously affected his life and career.

Now that you are a dad, will you do more work for kids and what is the experience like?

Executive Producer Elton John and Producer David Furnish at the premiere © 2011 Miramax

I do a lot of work for children with the AIDS foundation. I have a lot of God-children. It’s not as if children aren’t in my life at all. They’ve been very prevalent in my life over the last few years. David has lots of nieces and nephews. I’m a great lover of children.

I never thought that one day I’d actually be a father but I’m very pleased. Children are extremely important. They are the future of the world and as long as David and I bring him up to be a loving and compassionate boy then I’ll be very happy. I love kids. What can I say?

Do you have any advice for couples?

Communication; talk to each other. Lady Antonia Fraser, who was married to Harold Pinter, said that they never went to bed during an argument. David and I never go to bed when we’re angry with each other.

You have reached everything an artist can reach, is there anything left for you to achieve?

Well, there are always things you want to do; obviously ballet is not an option. I’d just like to make a really great film about my life story, and we’re thinking about that, we have a great script already by Lee Hall, who wrote Billy Elliot. Obviously it’s not going to be your normal run-of-the-mill film because my life has been crazy and I think it’s important to do a kind of surrealistic take on my life. I would love to do that.

One of the things that audiences have enjoyed about your music is the sheer variety of it. What accounts for your great eclectic taste?

Executive Producer Elton John and Producer David Furnish at the premiere © 2011 Miramax

When I grew up as a kid, I grew up in a house that listened to the radio. My family always bought records. I grew up in the early ‘50s., so it was either classical music or dance, band music or great vocalists like Frank Sinatra. I got Songs for Swinging Lovers for my birthday when I was about eight years old, I think. I grew up in a house that loved music.

Of course when rock and roll came in I’d already had all this knowledge of great American singers, bandleaders, musicians and jazz players by the time that I was six or seven. Then rock came in and it changed my life and it changed the whole music scene forever. Then I grew to love R&B, Motown and all Black music, gospel music. I never dismiss any form of music. I listen to everything. I’m on the new Kanye West record, for example. It’s a genius record. I love all different sorts of music.

You’re touring Europe this year – how does it feel to be onstage at this stage of your career?

I think it’s so much more comfortable for me now. I’ve always enjoyed and loved playing live. I relish and cherish it more than anything else, because you never know what the performance is going to be. If you go on stage some nights and you do a performance and you’re feeling great, sometimes you’re not as great as you think you’re feeling. And some nights you’re feeling tired and you give a really great performance. It’s the unknown. You don’t know being a performer what kind of performance you’re going to give. You know you can give a certain quality of performance.

Executive Producer Elton John at the premiere © 2011 Miramax

As I grow older I’m much more content in my own skin because when I come off stage now I have a balance in my life and until I found that in 1990 I didn’t. I came off stage and I didn’t know what to do with myself, now I come home. I fly home every night after a show and I get back in my own bed and I have a wonderful partner, I have wonderful friends. I can remember things, I don’t take drugs anymore; it’s a whole new world out there! (he laughs) I can remember the words to the songs, it’s great. It’s just sensational what’s happened to me in the last few years.

Truly the older I get I think I’m singing better live, I enjoy it. I also had my eyes done about eight years ago, I had replacement lens surgery because I was so blind, and I don’t really need to wear glasses [he says wearing sunglasses!], I’m just being moody. But now I have 20/20 vision, and I can see all the signs that the fans have, all the album sleeves, and it makes a difference and I really appreciate my performing so much [more] now as I get older than I did – I don’t take it for granted anymore, I really relish it and love it.

Are you playing at Kate and William’s wedding?

I don’t know Kate and William so I made a joke that I’m probably busking outside, but as far as I know, I don’t think so. It’ll probably be someone like Barry Manilow, someone younger and more attractive!

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter. More by Judy Sloane