Taron Egerton and Tom Hanks also faced the additional challenge of crooning a tune in their scene-stealing roles.
Noah Baumbach had a plan, and it involved getting his top-billed actors to sing Stephen Sondheim in his divorce drama. "I kind of half-joked that I reverse engineered the movie so that the two of them could sing those songs," the director joked about stars Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. While the latter playfully sings "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" from Company, Driver performs a solemn rendition of "Being Alive." Yes, Driver really is singing. "Where Noah put it in the script I thought was really beautiful writing," Driver says.
Before Taron Egerton landed the role of Elton John in Rocketman, the actor already had sung one of his songs on the big screen. Egerton's belting rendition of "I'm Still Standing" in the 2016 animated movie Sing actually put him in contention for the part. Recordings of him singing "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" and "Your Song" then helped seal the deal with Paramount. Egerton's performance received high praise from the "Tiny Dancer" pop artist. "I didn't think it was Taron," John tells THR of watching Rocketman. "I thought it was me."
If you wondered if Tom Hanks is really singing Fred Rogers' iconic children's songs in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, just watch a video of the sing-along he started at TIFF. On the red carpet of the film's premiere, the actor led the crowd in a rendition of "Won't You Be My Neighbor." Hanks admits he now uses Rogers' songs in his everyday life, especially when he's in an argument with his wife. "I'm now driving her insane," he says. "I sing, 'You know, honey: It's good to talk. It's good to share the things we feel!' "
Renée Zellweger performed some of Judy Garland's songs, including "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," in front of an audience. "All that was Rupert [Goold, the director], because if I could have gotten out of it, I would've," Zellweger jokes. The actress surrounded herself with Garland's music and video archives to step into the late singer's shoes. Despite her nerves, Zellweger understood the value of showing Garland singing that song, which she says began to "represent something different as [Garland] weathered life's challenges and struggles."
This story first appeared in a January stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.