The new biographical film about the life off iconic rock star Elton John, Rocketman, opened on Friday, raking in $22 million in the U.S. as Deadline reported. Now, the star’s younger half-brother said that the movie falsely portrays their father, Stanley Dwight, as an uncaring monster, and that the character portrayed by veteran British actor Steven Mackintosh is “not the Dad I remember.”
Geoff Dwight is one of four children from Stanley Dwight’s second marriage. The elder Dwight divorced Elton John’s mother, Shelia, when John was 14. A full two decades younger than his superstar half-brother — whose given name is Reginald Dwight — Geoff Dwight told The Daily Mail that the cold, distant figure in they film who attempted to squelch his oldest son’s musical aspirations and scolds him for his apparent homosexuality, is the opposite of the real Stanley Dwight, who died in 1991 at age 67.
“This coldness, it’s a million miles away from what Dad was like,” the 52-year-old Dwight told The Daily Mail. “He was a product of a time when men didn’t go around hugging each other and showing their feelings every minute of every day, but he had plenty of love in him for all of us.”
He says that far from discouraging his son’s interest in music, Stanley Dwight purchased a £68 (about $190 at the time) piano and sent it to his son, who was then living with his mother following the divorce.
“Dad encouraged all of us to be musical. He was in a swing band himself, so I see no reason why he’d have thwarted Elton,” Dwight told the paper, describing the portrayal of his father in Rocketman as “rubbish.”
Dwight also said that unlike the character depicted in the film, their father was not disdainful or angry when he learned that Elton John was gay.
“Dad didn’t have a homophobic bone in his body,” he said, adding that when he heard that John “came out,” Stanley Dwight “didn’t care.”
Writing in The Daily Mail on May 18, Elton John’s biographer Philip Norman, who has also penned acclaimed biographies of John Lennon, The Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly, and others according to his British Council online bio, said that John’s claims of his father’s “hatred” toward him are “pure fiction.”
Many of Norman’s statements about Stanley Dwight echo those made by Geoff Dwight in defense of his father. Both refute the allegation by John, and portrayed in the film, that Stanley was abroad with the Royal Air Force when his son Reginald was born, and was indifferent to his son on first meeting him. In fact, both Norman and the younger Dwight say that Stanley Dwight was present for his son’s birth on March 25, 1947, and officially registered it the following day.