Rocketman, the musical biopic about rock legend Elton John (played by Taron Egerton), is anchored in John's substance abuse, rapid rise to fame, and the pitfalls of being surrounded by people he loves who don't quite love him back. But in addition to tackling John's story, it also touches upon a number of crucial supporting characters from the icon's real life, including his former manager and lover, John Reid (Richard Madden).
This movie isn't about Reid, but Madden's character still has a major role throughout the movie as a personal and professional influence in John's life. But to play the part of the "tender bastard" (John's words, not ours), Madden had to look the part, too... and over the course of three decades, at that. Many of the characters, including John, John's mother Sheila (Bryce Dallas Howard), and John's writing partner Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), physically evolve onscreen to show the passage of time. Naturally, this required wigs — and lots of them.
Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, Rocketman's hair and makeup designer, tells Refinery29 that most characters required several wigs — three, on average — for each decade. But Madden's hair transformation was less demanding, as Yianni-Georgiou decided early on that she would dye Madden's hair to play Reid, ditching his light brown curls for a dark brown shag complete with a smooth '70s blowout. "We also dyed his lashes and brows darker to make the character more believable," she says. The only time Madden did need a wig was for the first part of the film, when he first meets John and his hair is basically a shoulder-grazing bob. (It was the '70s, after all.)
Looking at photos of the two, it's abundantly clear that Madden and Reid are not twins — and they weren't meant to be. The intention wasn't to turn the actor into the real-life person; rather, it was to tell a story through characters that admittedly required some creative liberties for emotional impact. Of course, if you take a look at Reid IRL, he does rock a head of wavy black hair, just like his onscreen counterpart. No, Reid isn't blessed with Madden's chiseled jawline — but really, who is?