LOS ANGELES — Sir Elton John is not, he would like to make it clear, planning on performing for Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middelton in April.
“I don’t know Kate and William,” he says. “I’d made a joke that I’d probably be busking outside, but as far as I know I don’t think so. No, it’ll probably be someone like Barry Manilow — someone younger and more attractive.”
Besides, he’s got enough on his plate with the recent arrival of he and husband David Furnish’s first son, Zachary, and the release of Gnomeo and Juliet, the film on which he serves as executive producer and for which he provided the soundtrack.
John admits that, while he loves kids, being a parent is still a new sensation for him. “I have a lot of godchildren. David has lots of nieces and nephews. It’s not as if children aren’t in my life at all,” he says. “I never thought one day that I’d actually be a father, but I’m very pleased I changed my mind. As long as David and I bring him up to be a loving and compassionate boy, then I’ll be very happy.”
While he doesn’t voice any of the characters in Gnomeo and Juliet, John does pop up on screen — in a sense. As dim-witted suitor Paris (voiced by Stephen Merchant) serenades Juliet with John’s classic “Your Song,” he morphs into a gnome version of the glam singer himself.
“There I am, Glam Gnome, the Gnomosexual,” he says with a laugh. “I lost it when I saw that. It’s very important if you’re British to take the piss out of yourself. I think you’re raised to do that in England, which is rather good.”
The star-crossed gnomes of the movie’s title belong to neighbouring — and warring — red and blue camps, but John insists audience shouldn’t read too much political allegory into it, despite how the red state/blue state battles in the U.S. may have heated up recently.
“We started the film 11 years ago, and if we’d had the foresight to do that, I’d say we’re f---ing geniuses,” he says. “But I do feel as though there is a message in this film. We spend so much time hating each other because our parents tell us that’s what we have to do.”
Gnomes or no gnomes, John’s own feelings about gardens are a bit... conflicted. “I grew up at my grandmother’s house and it was a beautiful garden, but I used to hate mowing the lawn and weeding, which is what you do when you’re a kid,” he explains. “I loathed it and I loathed gardening, but I love gardens and I have two beautiful gardens. I cannot bear gardening, but I love gardens.”