He goes looking for love everywhere — his cold parents, adoring crowds who sing his name but leave after the show, a manipulative manager who promises him everything, but not the one thing he really wants.
At the end of the movie, we learn that John eventually did find the love he so craved. Though for avid followers of John and David Furnish's love story, this is old news. John and Furnish, who officially married in 2014 after Britain legalized same-sex marriage, are pretty much the definition of relationship goals. Why? One small example: They write love notes to each other every Saturday. They met on a Saturday, and they count that day of the week as an "anniversary."
If Rocketman ever gets a sequel, we hope Furnish has a few singing parts.
Who is David Furnish?
David Furnish was born in Toronto, Canada in 1962, making him about 15 years younger than John. The son of an accountant, Furnish worked as an ad executive for Ogilvy & Mather in London prior to meeting to John.
Growing up, Furnish struggled with his sexuality. Before meeting John, his longest relationship was with a woman. Part of why he left Canada was because he craved freedom to explore himself.
"I left Canada, I left my family behind, because I was ashamed. I ran away. I grew up in a wonderfully happy, balanced household, with two other brothers and a mother and father who were still in love. I'd had such a positive experience at home, I wanted to live up to that ideal. But I couldn't do it. I had a lot of failed relationships, a lot of unhappiness, a lot of shame and embarrassment, bad self-image stuff. I had to get away," Furnish told The Observer in 2001.
Furnish only came out to his parents after he stared dating John — one of the world's biggest pop stars.
How did Elton John & David Furnish meet?
The year was 1993, three years after John finally got sober after more than a decade of substance abuse (depicted in detail in Rocketman). John was rebuilding his social life around a sober lifestyle. He wanted to meet new people. So, he asked for help.
"I rang up a friend in London and said, ‘Could you please rattle some new people together for dinner here Saturday?'” John told Parade in 2010.
Then, Furnish showed up at the party. He came reluctantly, expecting a total bore. Instead, their connection was immediate. They flew through the next steps of the relationship. John was honest in his Parade interview about the quick pace of those early days: “I was attracted to David immediately. He was very well-dressed, very shy. The next night we had dinner. After it, we consummated our relationship. We fell in love very quickly.”
However, John never once went to Furnish's little flat. "I don't know if I could have seen him coming around to Clapham for a bowl of spaghetti Bolognese," Furnish told The Observer in 2001.
Furnish had to adjust to John's fame.
Rocketman depicts a slice of John's raucous love life prior to meeting Furnish. After an ill-fated affair with manager John Reid, John moved on to a life of casual relationships ("I've slept with everyone," he tells his mom). John told Parade he'd pick younger men and "smother them with love," and with material gifts. But this behavior had ramifications: "They were reliant on me. I did this repeatedly. In six months they were bored and hated my guts because I’d taken their lives and self-worth away. I hadn’t intended to.”
Furnish, however, wasn't in it for the fame or perks. He had his own established career. "'It's very important in any relationship that one partner doesn't lose themselves in the other, and that's very easy if you're involved with a celebrity,' Furnish told The Observer "'They get so much attention and so much deference anyway, it would be very easy to just get swept up into being their other half. I had my own career, my own identity. The worst thing I could do was sacrifice that.'"
Furnish did change his career, though. He ended up becoming a director and movie producer. His directorial debut was Elton John: Tantrums and Tiaras (1997), a revealing documentary about John nominated for a BAFTA award. He was heavily involved with producing Rocketman and "strongly resisted" any "sanitization" of John's story.
What's their relationship like, really?
Honestly? It seems like the dream. The documentary Tantrums and Tiaras, which Furnish directed, captures a sliver of their private dynamic. Furnish interviews John about his life and career. "What is balance for you," Furnish asks John, who's just admitted he was feeling particularly washed up. "I don't know. Spending enough time with you," John replies.
In the '90s, John and Furnish were stars of nightlife. They showed up at parties around the world in costume. They were a very conspicuous and public gay couple at a time when that wasn't so common. Now, they've entered into a new phase: domestic life.
John and Furnish have two children.
John had ruled out having kids. Then, he found himself in an orphanage in Ukraine, and found himself changing his mind. The couple looked into adopting an HIV-positive 13-month-boy, but were denied because they were deemed "too old" and were in a same-sex relationship.
“I always said no to having kids, because I’m too old, too set in my ways, too selfish, the lifestyle doesn’t suit me,” John said in 2016 interview with Rolling Stone. “But I said, ‘This boy we met was trying to tell me something.’ He was trying to say, through God or someone else, 'Bull***t, you can be a dad, look at how much pleasure I gave you in an hour and a half.’ And I said, ‘Let’s go for it.’”
Afterwards, John and Furnish welcomed two boys. Their first child, Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, via egg donor and surrogate in 2010. Their second son, Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John, was born in 2013 to the same surrogate. Lady Gaga is godmother to both sons.
The couple wed as soon as same-sex marriage was legal in Britain.
In 2005, John and Furnish had a small ceremony to celebrate their civil partnership. In 2014, when same sex marriage was legalized in Britain, they had a lavish, star-studded wedding. John set up an Instagram account especially for the wedding.
John announced his retirement from touring to spend more time with Furnish and his sons.
After a three-year worldwide tour, that is. "[It's] a way of saying thank you. And as a way of going out with a bang. I don't want to go out with a whimper. I want to go out with a big bang," 70-year-old John told NPR.