"We only ever tried to do the best for him and to promote his career"
The music publisher, who played an influential role in Sir Elton’s early career, is portrayed by Stephen Graham as a foul-mouthed cockney in the big screen take on the iconic musician’s life. In one scene, he is seen calling John a “fucking poofter.”
But his son Stephen James insists that his late father “just wasn’t like that”. He instead claims that he had been “like a surrogate father” to the singer and explained how they’d both helped Elton on the road to fame.
“He’s basically a coward. He’s never been able to really express his emotions properly, certainly not to me,” he told the Daily Express.
“I don’t understand why he seems to feel the need to try to destroy everybody who helped him. We only ever tried to do the best for him and to promote his career. I really am very upset that he has turned on people in this way.”
He continued: “They basically depict my father in the film completely opposite to the way he was in real life. It’s rather upset me because my father was a nice guy. Elton’s own father had run off and wasn’t around. He treated my father at the time as very much a father figure, and my father treated Elton very much as if he was a son.”
Describing how his father had been reduced to “stereotypes”, he added: “They have turned him into this stereotype with a big fat cigar, swearing every other word.
“He just wasn’t like that. He never got aggressive. He never lost his temper. He never swore. But that’s how they have made him in the film.”
Elton initially fell out with Stephen and Dick in 1985 after a High Court battle over royalties. Dick died of a heart attack only three months after the legal dispute came to an end.
Their criticism comes after Elton’s former fiancee expressed her anger that their relationship hadn’t been properly reflected in the film.
Taron Egerton also previously addressed fears that the film would “straight-wash” Elton’s life.
In a five-star review, NME’s Olly Richards hailed Rocketman as “a hurricane of imagination and exuberance”.
“Rocketman bursts in a storm of glitter and rhinestones,” our verdict stated. “If you don’t adore it, you’re probably no fun.”