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Health concerns have caused a number of high-profile singers to quit the road but what will it all mean for the industry at large?

In a chilling quote from much-loved music documentary The Last Waltz, about The Bands final concert in 1976, leader Robbie Robertson looks straight into the camera and ominously says: The road will kill you.

At the time, he was just 34. Yet, over four decades later, musicians of his storied era are still on the road and facing escalating health issues as a consequence. Since the start of this year, Ozzy Osbourne, 71, had to cancel his 2020 tour to seek treatment for issues related to his recent diagnosis of Parkinsons disease. Elton John, 72, had to ditch dates on what was already advertised as his goodbye tour, after declaring himself extremely unwell. Madonna, 61, was forced to scratch a bunch of shows from her British tour due to overwhelming pain from injuries she sustained on the road which already caused her to nix some US dates. Meanwhile, Aerosmith felt compelled to disinvite drummer Joey Kramer from their Grammy performance, over alleged difficulties the 69-year-old was having keeping the beat, while the group itself has had to scratch dates due to various health issues experienced by Steven Tyler. Then, just this last week, the 56-year-old frontman of Metallica, James Hetfield, needed to cancel shows to, in his words, look after my mental, physical and spiritual health.

All this comes hot on the heels of an escalating wave of older stars whove either quit the road entirely or begun their last hurrahs, including Paul Simon at 78, Bob Seger at 74, Kiss aged between 68 to 70, Neil Diamond at 79, and Eric Clapton at 74.

The fact is, its really hard to tour, says Dave Brooks, who covers the concert industry for Billboard. Its terribly hard on your body, and mentally difficult too.

Jem Aswad, senior music editor of the trade publication Variety, says: People think its easy to be a rock star. But try to hold the attention of 18,000 people, and perform really well, for two and a half hours every night. Its an incredibly tough thing to sustain.

Elton
Elton John apologising to fans after cutting short a concert in Auckland. Photograph: Tim McCready/AFP via Getty Images

If all that wear-and-tear takes a toll on older performers, their increasing absence from the road threatens to weaken the concert industrys bottom line. According to the industrys most authoritative source, Pollstar, five out of the top 10 worldwide tours of the last year featured band members over the age of 50. Three of those were peopled with players aged 60 to nearly 80. In Pollstars list of top 200 North American tours, the top three earners were over 70, including Elton, Bob Seger and the Stones.

When it comes to the highest grossing single shows worldwide, four of the top five positions were occupied by a group with players over age 70, while 16 of the top 20 shows featured the same band. That would be the Rolling Stones, who are about to embark on yet another American jaunt this spring and summer, despite the fact that Mick Jagger had to have heart valve replacement surgery last April.

Small wonder Aswad calls older rock stars the cornerstone of the concert industry. He adds: Its a very real problem the industry is facing over the next ten years if more of them go out.

Especially since the audience who attends shows by older stars has the deepest pockets, raising profits for everyone. Its a demographic that has some of the highest per capita income, Brooks says. If the rockers are ageing out, their customers are leaving the marketplace.

And that has increasing consequence for the entire music business, given the paltry revenue generated by modern streaming compared to the hugely lucrative sales of old CDs. For most artists, touring is the biggest revenue generator, Brooks says.

In fact, the revenue the biggest bands create can rival the GDP of a small nation. Top stars can command an 80-20 or in some cases, even a 95-5 split of the funds from shows, with the lower portions going to the promoter. More, top artists can clean up at the merch table. A lot of bands are selling beyond the T-shirt or a poster right now, Brooks says. Some of whats sold is considered fashion and even vinyl collectables.

Given such earning power, concerts play a powerful role in the economy overall. According to Brooks, the touring industry is generally estimated to generate between $50-60bn worldwide, aided by expanding markets in eastern Europe and Asia. Despite such daunting figures, the industrys closest observers say they arent at all worried about the business ability to make up for the losses created by hobbled, or retired, oldsters. Ray Waddell, who has covered the concert business for over 30 years and who oversees Pollstar and Venues Now, says: The industry has shown a remarkable ability to regenerate and replicate itself with new headliners, whether they be Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande or Ed Sheeran. Acts can break more quickly now, given the international accessibility of music and the new ways of discovering music.

The changes dont only reflect a new generation of fans but a switch in the popularity of genres. Everybody tends to think about rock stars when they think about top touring acts, says Aswad. But pop is replacing it. We could very well be looking at a situation, 10 years from now, where the top touring acts will be Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Ed Sheeran.

In fact, the single highest grossing tour worldwide for the last year, according to Pollstar, was by Pink, who is just 40. In a 12-month period, she sold over 1.8m tickets, yielding a gross of $215.2m, aided by a performance as prized for its death-defying acrobatics as its music. Doing strong business over the last year as well were twenty-something stars Shawn Mendes and Post-Malone, and the teen K-pop phenom, BTS, who were the sixth top grossing act in the world.

Mike
Mike Campbell, left, and Tom Petty in 2017. Photograph: Amy Harris/Invision/AP

Even if the industry can keep thriving, however, theres potential peril for those elders who keep trying to slog it out. In 2017, Tom Petty died days after finishing a tour at the age of 66, due to overuse of medications he was taking to deal with pain accrued from a lifetime on the road, including knee difficulties and a fractured hip. A year after his death, his wife, Dana, told Billboard: Hed had it in his mind this was his last tour and he owed it to his long-time crew and his fans.

The clear implication here is that Petty died, in part, because of a sense of duty to support the team around him, to his fans, and to the unspoken code of the road. Factors like these keep many artists on the road, even if they happen to have the personal wealth of Croesus, and theyre not, necessarily, in the best shape. In 2016, Prince died from overdosing on the prescription medicine he was given to deal with pain caused by years of leaping around the stage in high heels. Given stories like these, Robbie Robertsons quote seems not just cautionary, but prophetic.

At the same time, many of the old war horses have proven themselves incredibly hearty, as well as eager. These artists live to perform, Waddell says. You can sell, or download, millions of records, but thats no substitute for 20,000 people loving every move you make. Very few people get to experience anything that powerful.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/mar/02/music-rock-concerts-musicians-touring

Elton John biopics gay sex and kissing footage edited out in effort to play down singers sexuality

A Russian media company has reportedly cut all scenes featuring gay sex and men kissing from the Elton John biopic Rocketman because of laws banning homosexual propaganda.

An estimated five minutes of footage have been cut from the film in an attempt to play down the sexuality of one of the worlds most famous gay celebrities for a conservative Russian audience.

The cuts were first reported by Russian journalists after the films 30 May release in Moscow. Anton Dolin, a popular Russian film critic, wrote on Facebook that all scenes with kissing, sex and oral sex between men have been cut out The nastiest part is that the final caption has been removed from the finale.

While the original caption said that John lives with his husband and that they are raising children together, the Russian version says instead that he established an Aids foundation and continues to work with his musical partner.

Sorry, Sir Elton, Dolin wrote.

On Friday, John and the films makers released a joint statement condemning the cuts: We reject in the strongest possible terms the decision to pander to local laws and censor Rocketman for the Russian market, a move we were unaware of until today.

That the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people.

We believe in building bridges and open dialogue, and will continue to push for the breaking down of barriers until all people are heard equally across the world.

John wrote about the new film in an article for the Guardian recently. Some studios wanted to tone down the sex and drugs so the film would get a PG-13 rating, he said. But I just havent led a PG-13 rated life.

The singer added: I didnt want a film packed with drugs and sex, but equally, everyone knows I had quite a lot of both during the 70s and 80s, so there didnt seem to be much point in making a movie that implied that after every gig, Id quietly gone back to my hotel room with only a glass of warm milk and the Gideons Bible for company.

John has remained one of the wests most celebrated rock stars in Russia even as he has used his celebrity to campaign for equal rights for LGBT around the world. He first toured the Soviet Union in 1979 and has continued to perform in Russia even after the passing of the controversial anti-gay propaganda law in 2013, targeted mainly against public events like pride celebrations.

Conservative supporters of the law said it was needed to protect traditional family values and minors from non-traditional sexual orientation. Local organisations and foreign governments have criticised the law, saying it is both discriminatory and vague.

John was also targeted by pranksters pretending to be Vladimir Putin in 2015, calling the chance to discuss civil rights with Putin a great privilege before realising he had been duped.

The real Putin eventually called John, and the singer secured an invitation from the Russian leader to meet and speak about issues including HIV, Aids and equal rights for LGBT. The meeting still has not taken place.

In 2014 Putin said of the singer: Elton John is an outstanding person [and] outstanding musician. Millions of our people sincerely love him despite his orientation.

A Russian state news agency said the distribution company managing Rocketman confirmed that changes were made to the film in accordance with Russian law.

Earlier reports said that 40 seconds could be cut from the film in a bid to lower the movies age rating. In his post, Dolin said that the film had been cut by as much as five minutes. Scenes featuring drug use had also been cut.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/31/russia-cuts-scenes-of-elton-john-rocketman-citing-homosexual-propaganda-law

Elton John biopics gay sex and kissing footage edited out in effort to play down singers sexuality

A Russian media company has reportedly cut all scenes featuring gay sex and men kissing from the Elton John biopic Rocketman because of laws banning homosexual propaganda.

An estimated five minutes of footage have been cut from the film in an attempt to play down the sexuality of one of the worlds most famous gay celebrities for a conservative Russian audience.

The cuts were first reported by Russian journalists after the films 30 May release in Moscow. Anton Dolin, a popular Russian film critic, wrote on Facebook that all scenes with kissing, sex and oral sex between men have been cut out The nastiest part is that the final caption has been removed from the finale.

While the original caption said that John lives with his husband and that they are raising children together, the Russian version says instead that he established an Aids foundation and continues to work with his musical partner.

Sorry, Sir Elton, Dolin wrote.

On Friday, John and the films makers released a joint statement condemning the cuts: We reject in the strongest possible terms the decision to pander to local laws and censor Rocketman for the Russian market, a move we were unaware of until today.

That the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people.

We believe in building bridges and open dialogue, and will continue to push for the breaking down of barriers until all people are heard equally across the world.

John wrote about the new film in an article for the Guardian recently. Some studios wanted to tone down the sex and drugs so the film would get a PG-13 rating, he said. But I just havent led a PG-13 rated life.

The singer added: I didnt want a film packed with drugs and sex, but equally, everyone knows I had quite a lot of both during the 70s and 80s, so there didnt seem to be much point in making a movie that implied that after every gig, Id quietly gone back to my hotel room with only a glass of warm milk and the Gideons Bible for company.

John has remained one of the wests most celebrated rock stars in Russia even as he has used his celebrity to campaign for equal rights for LGBT around the world. He first toured the Soviet Union in 1979 and has continued to perform in Russia even after the passing of the controversial anti-gay propaganda law in 2013, targeted mainly against public events like pride celebrations.

Conservative supporters of the law said it was needed to protect traditional family values and minors from non-traditional sexual orientation. Local organisations and foreign governments have criticised the law, saying it is both discriminatory and vague.

John was also targeted by pranksters pretending to be Vladimir Putin in 2015, calling the chance to discuss civil rights with Putin a great privilege before realising he had been duped.

The real Putin eventually called John, and the singer secured an invitation from the Russian leader to meet and speak about issues including HIV, Aids and equal rights for LGBT. The meeting still has not taken place.

In 2014 Putin said of the singer: Elton John is an outstanding person [and] outstanding musician. Millions of our people sincerely love him despite his orientation.

A Russian state news agency said the distribution company managing Rocketman confirmed that changes were made to the film in accordance with Russian law.

Earlier reports said that 40 seconds could be cut from the film in a bid to lower the movies age rating. In his post, Dolin said that the film had been cut by as much as five minutes. Scenes featuring drug use had also been cut.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/31/russia-cuts-scenes-of-elton-john-rocketman-citing-homosexual-propaganda-law

Taron Egerton does a good impression of the flamboyant musician in this sucrose treatment, a by-the-numbers approach authorised by Elton himself

Dexter Fletchers rousingly good natured Rocketman is the authorised-version movie about the legendary singer-songwriter Elton John: written by Lee Hall, produced by David Furnish and exec produced by the man himself. Its had to follow the John Lewis Christmas TV ad that everyone loved, which delivered a very similar narrative in a miniaturised version; in fact theres a moment here with Elton musingly picking out a single-finger tune that even appears to allude to that small-screen gem. Rocketman has also, in a way, had the burden of following or living up to Elton Johns sensational songs, the masterpieces which each seem like mini-movies in themselves or at the very least the euphoric accompaniment to the most moving final montage youve ever seen.

Rocketman is a sucrose-enriched biopic-slash-jukebox-musical hybrid which sometimes feels like it should be on the Broadway or London West End stage and very possibly will. Sometimes the songs are woven realistically into the action, with Elton performing one of his nuclear-payload belters live on stage, or sometimes musingly trying out a song on the keyboard, giving us all goosebumps as we recognise a prototype of Candle in the Wind. But sometimes the songs are part of a fantasy sequence, choreographed in such a way as takes us close to Lloyd Webber territory.

As Elton John, Taron Egerton gamely does a middleweight impersonation, more comfortable with the lighter side: better at the tiaras than the tantrums. The story takes us from the world of Reg Dwight, a bright, shy kid in Pinner, living with his mum (Bryce Dallas Howard) and emotionally stilted dad (Steven Mackintosh) who without knowing it is sowing the seeds of creative pain and rage. Theres also his adoring gran (Gemma Jones) who encourages his music.

Then theres the miraculous meeting with lyricist Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), the gruff philistine-yet-shrewd promoter Dick James (Stephen Graham) inventor of the old grey whistle test for determining a hit and finally his devastatingly handsome lover and manager John Reid (a toxically sexy Richard Madden) with whom he falls out horribly. It skates us through the glory days of the 70s, the astronomic record-sales, the coke and booze, the misjudged straight marriage and perhaps equally misjudged purchase of Watford FC, concluding with rehab and a 12-step meeting from which the movie is recounted in piously conceived flashback.

The movie disconcertingly ends before he meets the true love of his life David Furnish; theres no mention of Princess Di, and nothing about his mums legendary 90th birthday when they werent speaking and she hired an Elton John impersonator to come to her party instead.

Egerton looks the part and carries off the costumes and glasses, the sequinned baseball costumes and jaunty bowlers well enough, but I felt he never quite delivers Johns woundedness when those he loved let him down; he couldnt quite do the lower-lip-trembling humiliation and hurt which fed into the rage and the fear. I found myself wondering what Bell would have been like in the role.

Of course, this Rocketman resembles the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody in a dozen different ways, although these are arguably genetic music-biopic standards: the poor upbringing, the manager, the scene in the record studio, the fateful first encounter with drugs and the joyful montage as the first hit climbs up the charts. Rocketman is candid enough about Johns identity as a gay man.

I didnt think this is a case of straightwashing: more unenjoymentwashing, a refusal to portray hedonism in any terms other than doomy disapproval. Elton himself is shown defiantly saying he loved every minute, but the film cant help tacitly tutting and shaking its head at scenes of him going wild they lead here to a gesture of attempted suicide. And of course Eltons indulgences and abuse were dangerous, but they were also part of his creative genius.

There is no central love story here: Bernie Taupin, despite his central importance to Elton life and art, isnt in the action much and it is not easy to invest in Reid either as a lost love or a bad guy who broke Eltons heart. Lee Halls dialogue, robust enough, is often a bit on the nose, making sure we know what were supposed to be thinking and feeling. Its a bit by-the-numbers but again, it could well sound better on stage

What the movie made an honest job of, was conveying the meaning of the song itself: the rocket pilot who is afraid and lonely and for whom the apparently mind-blowing business of space travel is all in a days work. Rocketman is an honest, heartfelt tribute to Elton Johns music and his public image. But the man itself eluded it.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/may/16/rocketman-review-elton-john-biopic-thats-better-at-the-tiaras-than-the-tantrums

Kids these days, eh? Every generation seems to believe that when they young they were much more polite, listened to better music, wore cooler clothes and were just generally superior in every way to the bratty, entitled kids of nowadays.

And you know what? It’s true. There’s nothing cool about tubby, rude and ignorant kids raised in front of a screen and stuffed full of potato chips, listening to Posty Mahone and completely oblivious to social norms and basic human decency.

Image credits: da_drought_3

Of course, this is a massive generalization. But after this incident, posted by Twitter user Isabel, you can’t help but feel a little upset by the lack of parenting. A bratty kid was sprawled out over two or three seats on the subway, zombified in front of his phone (naturally) while his guardian sat by, also away in her own world.

Image credits: da_drought_3

Most people faced with this situation would probably give a disapproving look, feel a bit annoyed by the injustice of it all and continue to stand, while the boy selfishly luxuriated on his own personal couch. Not this hero, however. A young Elton John look-a-like, tired of still standing, showed up and was having none of it. “This lil ass— wouldn’t move his legs for 3 adults, so this guy comes and just SITS on his legs #mykidcouldnever,” Isabel tweeted along with a few pics and a short video of the incident.

Image credits: da_drought_3

The look on the kidspreader’s face after having his bubble burst is priceless. He looks genuinely shocked at being called out for his arrogant behavior, and his guardian seemed to halfheartedly defend him without ever looking truly concerned either way.

Image credits: da_drought_3

Image credits: da_drought_3

The hero got plenty of praise on Twitter, after the post was shared over 47k times. People taking up more than their fair space on public transport really seems to strike a nerve with the internet, and this guy is this latest to be lauded for his service to the rest of us.

Image credits: da_drought_3

Image credits: da_drought_3

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Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/spoiled-kid-refuse-move-legs-metro-hero-stranger-sits/

From Bohemian Rhapsody to Rocketman, can a film about an artist ever tell the truth when family and friends are involved?

If the new Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody doesnt include at least one party scene featuring dwarves with platters of cocaine on their heads, I am asking for my money back. While that might look tasteless today (even if the party in question is well documented), there is an impression that the film will seek to put a slant on Mercurys life, since it is co-produced by his Queen bandmates Brian May and Roger Taylor.

That was why Sacha Baron Cohen exited the movie in 2013. According to Cohen, May and Taylors idea was that Mercury dies halfway through then we see the band go from strength to strength. While May denied that, suspicion lingers that Bohemian Rhapsody will dial back on Mercurys hedonism and life as a closeted gay man, and fade up the contributions of his band.

Similar doubts hang over Rocketman, next years Elton John biopic. It is based on a true fantasy, which is already a hint that its not going to be an unflinching study of the troubadours darkest extremes (Freddie Mercury could out-party me, which is saying something, Elton once said). Another hint is that it is co-produced by Elton and his husband David Furnish. The trailer alludes to moments of crisis 70s Elton daytime-drinking in his dressing gown, winding up in hospital but, as its star Taron Egerton has explained, Rocketman is more fanciful musical than conventional biopic, with his songs used to express important beats in his life.

That is not to say we demand to see our music icons at their most debauched, merely that the involvement of band or close family can mean skeletons remain in the closet. It happened with NWAs Straight Outta Compton, which counted Dr Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy Es widow, Tomica Woods-Wright, among its producers. The movie was great, but you would never guess that NWA often had less-than-progressive views about gay people, or a history of assaulting women.

Even when they are not co-produced by them, such official biopics rarely happen without the say-so of music rights holders and family estates, who often have terms and conditions, and stand to gain from promotion of the back catalogue. Chadwick Boseman had to dance the mashed potato for James Browns family before they approved him for Get on Up, which skipped over much of Browns history of domestic violence but made full use of his music. You can tell the ones that didnt go down this route, such as Stoned (Brian Jones biopic), Backbeat (the early Beatles), and Jimi: All Is By My Side (Andr Benjamin as Hendrix). In each case, the score was composed of cover versions rather than the artists own.

Its a trade-off: we know were never getting the whole truth with music biopics, but its good to know whose truth we are getting.

Bohemian Rhapsody is in UK cinemas on 24 October

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/oct/15/bohemian-rhapsody-rocketman-why-official-biopics-skip-the-scandal-and-keep-it-safe

Performer becomes irritated and swears after man repeatedly leans over towards piano

Sir Elton John stormed off stage after a fan one of a number who had been invited to join him round the piano tried to touch him as he performed.

The singer had invited a group from the audience on to the stage at his Las Vegas residency show while performing Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting.

In a video clip circulated online, John is seen becoming irritated as one of the fans near his piano repeatedly leans over and tries to touch him and the keyboard.

John, 70, appears to shout an expletive at the fan before getting up from his seat and walking off the stage.

After the song finished, and the members of the audience had returned to their seats, John came back on stage. Before performing his next song, Circle Of Life, he told the audience: No more coming on stage during Saturday Night, you fucked it up.

It is believed the person who tried to touch the singer was swiftly escorted from the venue. A representative for John has been contacted for comment.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/mar/03/elton-john-storms-off-stage-fan-touch-sings

After a 50-year career Elton John is embarking on his final tour, which will take him to five continents over three years

Elton John retires from touring with 300-date world tour

After a 50-year career Elton John is embarking on his final tour, which will take him to five continents over three years

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jan/24/elton-john-announces-retirement-touring-final-tour-50-year-career

The rapper has revealed that he relied on Elton Johns support while battling an addiction to painkillers

Eminem, while struggling with drug addiction and celebrity, found solace in an unexpected confidant, he revealed this week. The controversial rapper is “friends”, it seems, with Sir Elton John.

“Me and him have had similar lives and stuff,” Eminem explained in an interview with the Detroit Metro Times. “We became friends and I talk to him about things, career-wise.”

Em and El didn’t always seem so sympathetic, however. The artists’ first meeting, at the 2001 Grammy awards, was spoiled by allegations of Eminem’s homophobia. But flash forward eight years and Eminem calls Elton the musician he most looks to for support. “I talk to Elton a lot.”

The friendship became particularly important after the release of Eminem’s last album, Encore, and the rapper’s subsequent battle with drugs. Addicted to painkillers and after a near-fatal methadone overdose, Eminem rang up the man with the silly glasses who had himself attended rehab in 1990.

“When I first wanted to get sober, I called [Elton] and spoke to him about it,” Eminem said. “He’s somebody who’s in the business and can identify and relate to the lifestyle and how hectic things can be. He understands … the pressure and any other reasons that you want to come up with for doing drugs.”

“I reached out to him and told him, ‘Look, I’m going through a problem and I need your advice.'”

Elton’s advice seems to have worked as Eminem now says he has been clean for a year.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/may/15/eminem-elton-john

George Clooney called Donald Trump a fascist, Lupita Nyongo took on Hollywood racism, Elton John discussed money and Eddie the Eagle admitted he skied like an ostrich what we learned in a year of Guardian interviews

LIFE AND DEATH

Patti Smith is as hard as nails

You can decide your own fate. Are you going to let it all fall apart? Or are you going to own it?

Keith Richards reckons the Rolling Stones Altamont gig, where a man was killed by a Hells Angels security guard, wasnt all bad

I think given that there were about half a million people there, Id say that 499,000 had a good time. Which is not bad on the average, you know? And one man died, but a baby was born, so the same number came out as went in. If that hadnt happened, it would have been considered a Woodstock on the coast. All it takes is one sucker with a knife.

Thandie Newton is furious about abuse and exploitation

Im always angry. I wake up angry. There is a lot to be angry about. Anger, she says calmly, is a positive energy.

Nicola Adams enjoys her work

I guess when Im smiling, waving to the crowd, looking really happy, an opponent is going to look at me and think wow, is she even nervous? But really, Im just enjoying myself.

Woody Allen hasnt overcome trauma

I dont believe in the Nietzschean notion that what doesnt destroy you makes you stronger. You see these soldiers come back with PTSD; theyve been to war and seen death and experienced these existential crises one after the other. There are traumas in life that weaken us for the future. And thats whats happened to me. The various slings and arrows of life have not strengthened me. I think Im weaker. I think there are things I couldnt take now that I would have been able to take when I was younger.

Jeremy Irons thinks abortion is a tremendous mental attack

I believe women should be allowed to make the decision, but I also think the church is right to say its a sin. Because sin is actions that harm us. Lying harms us. Abortion harms a woman its a tremendous mental attack, and physical, sometimes. But we seem to get that muddled. In a way, thank God the Catholic church does say we wont allow it, because otherwise nobodys saying that its a sin.

Vanessa Redgrave wanted to die after having a heart attack

Trying to live was getting too tiring. I was with my daughter, and I said, Im sorry, I just think Im going to have to give up, knowing shed be unhappy, of course. And she was wonderful. How did Joely (another successful actor) encourage her to keep living? By telling me I could. Her saying I could give up released me.

Lauren Laverne shudders at the memory of being a teenage pop star

I look back now and I feel terrified about all the things that I did. But also more forgiving towards myself because I was so young. Everyones an idiot when theyre 16.

The Heseltines have shot lots of grey squirrels on their Northamptonshire estate

Three hundred and fifty. Absolutely awful things.

Shah
Shah Rukh Khan, Robbie Williams, Clare Short, Samuel L Jackson and Marilyn. Composite: Linda Nylind, Getty, Sarah Lee,

TALENT

Making mix tapes taught Lin-Manuel Miranda how to compose a Broadway smash

I feel lucky to have grown up in the era when we made mix cassettes. I think it affected how I write scores. Because when youre making a mix tape for your friends, its 90 minutes of music, in the order in which you curate it, so youre creating the ebb and flow. That prepared me to write scores more than anything else. You want to surprise them, tell them how you feel about them, you want to express the wealth of your taste. How is that different from writing a Broadway score?

Elton John doesnt play the piano at home

I play 107 shows a year, why am I going to go home and play the fucking piano? Ive got one at Woodside [his Windsor estate] and one at my house in Atlanta, and I never touch them. Rufus Wainwright plays every morning when he gets up I have to play an hour every day so everyones different, but, God, I couldnt think of anything worse. I have leisure, and I have work. And I do enough work. When I get home, the last thing I want to do is play the piano.

Boy George misses the wizard behind the curtain

When I was 19, there was still the mystery of rocknroll; there was still the wizard behind the curtain. Kids now, they know how to make records, they know where to get their clothes. We had to dream about it: is this possible? Now, its like: Yeah, you can be famous, you get on this show, you do that, you do this, but I think the thing is, I dont think it necessarily means that much. Im glad I had that exciting first part of my career in a decade when you could make a cultural difference of sorts, you know?

Phil Collins didnt get his message across on his 1993 album Both Sides

It was like coming out of a toilet with toilet paper on your foot and trying to walk elegantly while trying to get it off. I think thats one of the reasons I did retire, frankly. It seemed that the only way I could stop this was to stop and start again. I stopped. Im yet to start again.

Eddie the Eagle knew the sky was the limit

Id like to say I flew like an eagle, but I was probably closer to the ostrich. Did he ever say to the makers [of film Eddie the Eagle], youre doing me down?I thought the skiers skiing down that slope in the film are not very good, whereas in actual fact Im a hell of a lot better. But that didnt matter to me because I know Im a good skier, and people who know me know that.

Shah Rukh Khan says women made him a star

I lost my father, then my mother, early on, he says. But the women in my life the actresses have helped me immensely. Everything I am is because of them. They are doing all that work and, mostly, I take away the credit for the film. Im Shah Rukh Khan. None of them has become Shah Rukh Khan and I hope they do. Im not trying to be pompous about myself. Madhuri Dixit has held my hand in those dancing scenes and Im not leading her, shes leading me. Juhi Chawla taught me how to do comic timing, Kajol taught me how to cry. They worked their asses off and then, at the end of the film, its Shah Rukh Khan: the superstar. And I know it. I cant deny it. And I can never ever forget I am [there] because of women. All my chivalry, goodness, gentlemanliness only stems from the fact that its my way of saying thank you. They are fabulous in the films. In every film.

ADDICTION

Robbie Williams gave up smoking but got hooked on Minstrels

Thats the thing with having an addictive personality. One fire goes out and another pops up. And that fire became working out and eating Minstrels. I transferred the smoking to working out three hours a day, and then eating Minstrels for three hours every night. Thats not an exaggeration. And then I stopped the working out and just carried on with the Minstrels and I ballooned to the point where the Daily Mail suggested I was akin to Elvis before he died. It was horrible, terrible. I had to go on stage, too: Yeah, I know, I look like Elvis before he died. Sorry, everybody, as Im pointing at you suggestively, pretending that you think Im sexy.

So I went on this pretty hardcore diet. You woke up and had a boiled egg, then nothing for five hours, then had vegetable broth, then steamed veg, then nothing until the next day. After five days of that, first off, I was really fucking emotional, because youve got nothing, your bodys starving. And the second thing is, you just needed something to suppress your appetite, so this started again. I tried to hide it from my wife for five weeks. At night Id hide my mouthwash and hand sanitiser in a safe place, then wake up an hour before she got up, climb out of the window, take my top off, so as not to smell of anything, then smoke, hand sanitiser and mouthwash, top back on, shoes off so as not to wake her up, climb back in the window.

Even when Samuel L Jackson was out it, he always hit his marks

I had a very good theatre reputation. Granted, I was a fucking drug addict and I was out of my mind a lot of the time, but I had a good reputation. Showed up on time, knew my lines, hit my marks. I just wasnt making a lot of money, but I was very satisfied artistically. I was doing Pulitzer prize-winning plays. I was working with people who made me better, who challenged me. So I was doing things the right way, it was just that one thing that was in the way my addiction. And once that was out of the way, it was boom! The door blew wide open.

Marilyn spent 20 years taking crack and heroin while watching the Alien movies on loop

He retreated to his mothers house in Hertfordshire and stayed there for 20 years, without going out, unless it was to the hospital or a dealer, or a doctor. But in general I just sat in a room for 20 years. I didnt want contact with people. The phone would ring and I just wouldnt pick it up. The curtains were always drawn, I didnt know whether it was night or day.

What did he do all day? You know the Alien movies? I had the box set of that. I had my laptop and my drug paraphernalia was all set up around me. And Id watch the first Alien film, then the second, then the third, fourth, fifth. And when it got to the end of the fifth one, Id put the first one back on again. So that was it. Over and over again. It was, like, my life has gone out of control, but I can control this, this tiny little bubble of behaviour: that was my safety, sitting in front of this computer screen with what Im watching, and I know all the dialogue and I know whats going to happen. I could control how I felt. Oh, Im bit tired, let me have some crack. Oh, Im a bit depressed, lets have some heroin. I need to go to sleep, Ill take a downer. I just wanted to die, but I couldnt do that, I think because I was brought up a Catholic, with that idea that if you kill yourself you go to purgatory. I kept thinking, Well, itll be just my fucking luck, Ill kill myself and wake up in exactly the situation Im trying to get away from and itll be for eternity. At least I know this is going to end at some point.

Boy
Boy George, Leslie Jones, Gary Lineker, Lupita Nyongo, Suggs and Steve McQueen. Composite: EPA, REX, Getty, Rob Greig,

STYLE

Native Americans were like a religion for Adam Ant in the 1980s

It was all the things Id grown up with that I felt were heroic and sexy and had a warrior bravado to them. Id been reading about and studying pirates and the Native Americans for a few years the Native American thing was as close to a religion as I had. Putting the Apache war stripe across my nose was a declaration of arms against the music industry, which I felt had ignored me and treated me very unfairly. I wanted to look like a buccaneer: when they raided somewhere, they would take all the stuff they could carry or wear and not take anything else. And then I got the Hussar jacket, the one worn by the 11th Hussars in the charge of the Light Brigade. They were the most ridiculed regiment in the British army because they were thought to be too well dressed. People called them the Cherrybums, because their uniforms were so tight, and all the young ladies came out to look at them when they were on parade. They were despised by the rest of the army, but they did this heroic, disastrous thing.

Boy George explained the art of glamour and survival

Life is kind of like clinging to a rock, isnt it? Were all clinging to a rock, and some people have got a better grip than others. Some people look bedraggled and other people look like Jerry Hall dressed as a mermaid on that Roxy Music album cover.

POLITICS

Zac Goldsmith ranted about Sadiq Khan

Whos criticised me? Honestly, whos criticised me? He has. No one else has. Love it or hate it, the Labour party is more radical now than any time in my lifetime. He is radical and divisive because of his approach to politics. He is a fundamentally partisan figure in politics. These are terms that I use and will continue to use to describe Sadiq Khan. And it is obvious to anybody who is not unfair or wanting to misinterpret, the terms I was using were in a political context. He looks at me, and his hands are shaking.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson is not friendly with Jeremy Corbyn

At PMQs I always try to get myself into a Buddha-like state. I try not to have any facial expression at all. Because if I laugh at a Jeremy joke, two hours later on social media its either interpreted as me laughing at Jeremy, or laughing at an opposition joke. Or, if I scowl at something someone says, people are accusing me of scowling at Jeremy. So I try to keep a straight face, which everyone always interprets as me looking really sad and miserable. Thats actually not the case. Im generally just trying to remain expressionless.

Watson remains in contact with Corbyn, though it sounds rather semi-detached. We still send the odd text to each other. Its usually about family stuff, you know. My dads ill, and he [Corbyn] is always asking about my dad. My dads a big supporter of Jeremy. Its a sort of chat really.

Clare Short was underwhelmed by the Chilcot report

I dont think anyones even going to read it. Except perhaps historians. Do you know, its longer than all the Harry Potter books put together?

I thought, she says of the extracts she read, it was terrible. It was deeply underwhelming, and not well informed. It had lost the plot on what it was meant to do. The person who had written it well, I dont believe this is John Chilcot, because he is a very bright guy.

HOLLYWOOD AND RACE

Leslie Jones knew it was important to be in Ghostbusters

Back in the day, when I was coming up, the last page of Jet magazine was a guide to all the times black people were going to be on TV, because we were hardly on TV and we needed to see and support our people when we were. So my thing is, my parents and grandparents would have been, Woah! She is in a Big Movie! A superhero in a BLOCKbuster. Why wouldnt you be dancing in the street?

Steve McQueen said the Oscars whitewash was like apartheid

Hopefully, when people look back at this in 20 years, itll be like seeing that David Bowie clip in 1983. He is referring to a clip that has been widely circulated online since Bowies death, in which the singer politely assails his interviewer about MTVs under-representation of black artists. Im hoping in 12 months or so we can look back and say this was a watershed moment, and thank God we put that right.

It is not just actors and directors either. Its like Johannesburg in 1976, if you go behind the scenes. I made two British movies [Hunger and Shame] and I never met one person of colour in any below-the-line situations. Not one. No black, no Asian, no one. Like, hello? Whats going on here? Very odd.

When it came to working in the US, making 12 Years a Slave, McQueen was adamant that he wouldnt let the same thing happen again, particularly not on a film about slavery. I expressly said in a meeting, Look, I cant make this movie in a situation where I dont see any black faces other than my own behind the camera. We need to employ certain people. I made that very clear and it was attended to. Two African American assistant directors were duly hired.

Lupita Nyongo is going to keep calling out the film industry

For the third time in as many years, she appeared on the front of the US edition of Vogue, which ran the coverline: I want to create opportunities for people of color. Its not the sexiest way to sell a fashion glossy, but Nyongo is unapologetic.

Films inspire people to feel differently. A lot more can be done. We can be more empathetic when we realise how much more alike we are than how different we are.

Does she feel a burden, as a black actor, to keep talking about the issues?

But you see, I dont like to fight the reality. The reason it is so acute is because of the stage we are at. When we are talking about inclusion in entertainment, its because entertainment isnt inclusive and, until such a time as that becomes the norm, then this work has to be done.

SPORT

Nicola Adams says boxing is like chess

Boxing is 50/50, mental and physical. You can be the strongest, fastest, most technical boxer out there, but if youre not there mentally, you wont win. You see boxers who look unbelievable in the gym, and then they get into the ring and they fall to pieces. The mental aspect is about how to stay in control, to get your opponent to make mistakes and then to capitalise on them. Its a bit like chess, really. She has played chess since she was 10.

Gary Lineker compared football and sex

The one thing about scoring a goal is you never know if its going to happen again. Whereas with sex, theres always the chance that something

Chris Eubank Jr and Sr explained the psychology of boxing

Jr: Obviously, in the buildup to some fights, theres animosity and testosterone and banter but at the end of the day, we all understand that this is a business, just two men who are trying to further their careers and provide for their families. There shouldnt be any true malice towards your opponent.

I learned very early on once I started boxing as a kid that if you go into the ring emotionally charged you make mistakes. I have fought fighters in the past who I dont like as people, but you have to block out any type of dislike or hate.

Sr: The feeling between two fighters is profound. You smell a mans blood, it smells like rust. You get into a clench, you feel his strength, you feel his desperation, he feels yours. Youre sharing this.

RELIGION

Sarah Perry had a churchy childhood

I would go to school and people would be talking about television, which was meaningless to me, and bands. I can remember someone talking about Take That, and I was like: Take what? Her church, the Ebenezer Strict and Particular Baptist Chapel, was a 19th-century building in Chelmsford with thick, mottled-glass windows, like the bottom of a beer bottle, inappropriately. And on a Sunday morning, when Sunday trading opened, I would see people walking past the windows on the way into town. That glass might have been a gap of 100 years as far I was concerned, because I was in chapel with my head covered, in a long skirt, with my King James Bible, and at the front of the church a little old organ being pedalled away, and a man with a beard and proper fire-and-brimstone rhetoric. And people just trolleying along into town. I think that will never leave me, that feeling that something that may only be a pane of glass but might as well be an abyss separates me from everything else.

Vanessa Redgrave thinks there is no conflict between science and religion

I know its a strange question to ask a Marxist, but do you have faith? She smiles, almost beatifically. Yes, certainly I do. And the reason I do is because I dont consider science and religion two fixed opposites. Human beings have felt the need to explain things that they couldnt explain, and acknowledge the existence of things they cant explain but want to. She is talking so slowly, so deliberately, she could be setting a dictation test.

So religion and Marxism is another contradiction she is happy to embrace? Yes, because if youre not happy to embrace contradictions youre not going to get very far in understanding anything.

LOVE

Ben Whishaw found it a relief to come out publicly

And that just made it worse. Because then people assume youve got some really juicy, awful thing that youre keeping from them. After an intrusive journalist exposed his civil partnership with composer Mark Bradshaw, he was forced to speak more openly, and he found this something of a relief. Because now people arent that interested, because now theres nothing being concealed, he says.

He tries not to think about how others might consider him or perceive his sexuality. If you dont let it be a weight upon you, it wont manifest as one in your life, he says. I just try to give it little space in my brain. Its not interesting to me.

George Takei was in the closet on Star Trek

You live under the fear of being outed all the time. I played the game. I took a female friend to premieres and parties, and then Id take her home and go to a gay bar. It was a double life. Interestingly, I recognised some faces in those bars and wed say Hi, but we didnt mention it the day after.

Christine McVie says Fleetwood Mac are umbilically tied together

I still think theres a certain need for each other in our band. In a strange way. Were umbilically tied together, somehow. Without one of us, were incomplete.

George
George Clooney, Macaulay Culkin, Lady Leshurr, Jay McInerney, Mark Ruffalo and Dustin Hoffman. Composite: Getty, Linda Nylind, Laura Barisonzi, WireImage

MONEY

Woody Allen spends $100 a week on lottery tickets

Ive talked this over with my wife. We would still go on living in the same house, I would go on working, I dont want a boat, I dont want a plane.

So why do it? He seems stumped. The odds are bigger than astronomical. Youd have a better chance of shuffling a deck of cards and naming them all in row. Ive never got more than two numbers. Id probably shoot myself if I got five and missed by one. That would really be a killer but I dont have that problem.

Eddie the Eagle was rolling in cash in his heyday

In 1988, I earned something like 700,000. Yeah! I was earning 10 grand an hour opening shopping centres. Yeah! The most I earned in one day was 65 grand. I opened the Alton Towers fun ride in the morning, did a commercial in the afternoon and an appearance at a nightclub in the evening. Sixty-five grand in one day!

Suggs from Madness says London is no good for would-be stars

Nowadays, you cant even find somewhere to rehearse unless your mummy and daddy can pay for you. All the arts are just fucking old Etonians and that is a big problem. And its boring. Where are the urchins? We certainly wouldnt be sitting here now.

Elton John doesnt spoil his children, Zachary and Elijah

They get 3 pocket money, but 1 is for charity, 1 is for saving and 1 is for spending, they get three coins and put them in separate jars. And they have to work for it help in the kitchen, help in the garden. Theyve got to learn the value of doing something and earning something for themselves. They live a very local life in Old Windsor, they go round their mates houses, its not a showbiz life as such. Theyre not stuck behind the gates of a mansion. Saturdays when Im home, we go to Pizza Hut with them, we go to Waterstones, we go to the cinema. Ive never been a recluse, Ive never hidden away. Im on the school run.

Lady Leshurr turned down her first big break because it meant starting a beef with Nicky Minaj

Atlantic Records in the US offered her a deal. They flew me out and we had a conversation, but their idea was that they were going to pit me against Nicki Minaj. It was like: Shes the biggest female MC and you need to take her down, and I wasnt feeling that at all. That whole stereotype of female rappers and their supporters having to compete with each other it seems to be a crime to be a fan of two female rappers that are successful. So I turned it down. The amount of money they were offering me was amazing. Ive always turned to music to get my mum out of the house, out of that situation, so to see that type of money thrown at me … Im not going to lie, I cried on the plane home, because I thought Id made a mistake and my mum needed the money. It might have been my only chance. But I know by now I would probably have been dropped and my career would have been ruined.

DONALD TRUMP

George Clooney thinks hes a fascist

I met Donald once. I was sitting in a booth and we talked for a while. Then he did Larry King, and he said I was very short. And I was like: I was sitting down the whole time, Donald! Hes just an opportunist. Now hes a fascist; a xenophobic fascist

Lets put things into perspective. You know, the truth of the matter is, in election season, things go crazy, and the loudest voices are the furthest and most extreme. So you hear a massively stupid idea, like were going to ban Muslims from the country. Now, were not ever going to do that. He shrugs. It says in the Statue of Liberty, bring us your huddled masses. Its not whats going to happen.

Elton John wouldnt let his music be played at election rallies

I dont really want my music to be involved in anything to do with an American election campaign. Im British. Ive met Donald Trump, he was very nice to me, its nothing personal, his political views are his own, mine are very different, Im not a Republican in a million years. Why not ask Ted fucking Nugent? Or one of those fucking country stars? Theyll do it for you.

Macaulay Culkin is superstitious about even saying his name

I have leanings, but Im the definition of a disenfranchised voter I think the system is ugly. This whole Trump thing is amazing. (Trump cameos in Home Alone 2, showing our hero the way to the Plaza Hotel lobby, although we cant talk about it.) Culkin doesnt want to be drawn further. Discussing politics is the quickest way to alienate people, so I dont wanna go into it. And Trump has enough column inches? Exactly! Hes like the Candyman, we have to stop saying his name.

Mark Wahlberg has played golf with him

Hes an OK golfer. Ive gotten to know him a little bit since, on various occasions. Ive never met Hillary Clinton.

It turns out that Wahlberg and Trump met almost a decade ago at one of those weird celebrity golf events that always seem to be happening in California or Florida. What did they talk about? He was very Donald Trump-like, talking about the things that he does, things that he has, business interests, properties, stuff like that. But he wasnt ever mean or rude. I dont think he asked me too many personal questions, or about what I do.

Dustin Hoffman thinks hes a conman

Its not that hes there, its that he has a following thats more disturbing, says Hoffman. He fell in at this moment when the majority of the Republican electorate feel, as they say, betrayed by their own party. Hes not that original weve seen people throughout our lifetime that are Donald Trumps. He does have a charisma, but so does the guy selling you a watch on the corner and telling you that its a Rolex.

Tim Roth hates him

I hate everything that he stands for. He should never be forgotten or forgiven for anything he said on the road to the White House. There should be no concession to him. No Lets give him a chance. None of it, he says. Grab them by the pussy, right? Look at where we are now and who is in charge of this country and, by extension, a good chunk of the world someone with misogynistic tendencies.

If you neglect the working class for so fucking long they will rebel against you. There was a dire need to stop a rise of fascism in America and we didnt take it seriously enough.

Mark Ruffalo says hes a blip

I feel bad for the Republicans. Its an untenable situation for them in a lot of ways. The people who are clear-headed and really do hold conservative values are on the outs. Whats driving the party at the moment is nothing other than fear and xenophobia, and a kind of paranoia that is not sustainable. You cant govern with it. Trump, he says, is an interesting blip in a country that is undergoing kind of a correction. Money has corrupted the political system, which has lost its credibility on both sides of the aisle. To Ruffalo, [Tump] is playing into all the ugliest aspects of the fear that has been fomented by the media and the politicians themselves; in contrast, he says, Bernie Sanders is offering a reimagining of the basic premise of what America is.

Jay McInerney says he gives New York a bad rep

Hes this cartoon of a New York tycoon, and barely a tycoon at that. I have friends in the real estate business and they say, number one, he has hugely overinflated his wealth, and number two, hes impossible to do business with; hes not trustworthy, he sues everybody. Hes not well regarded in that community As a New Yorker, I regret that hes associated with the city I love.

Interviews by Alex Needham, Paula Cocozza, Jess Cartner-Morley, Catherine Shoard, Simon Hattenstone, Archie Bland, Emma Brockes, Alexis Petridis, Dorian Lynskey, Nosheen Iqbal, John Patterson, Decca Aitkenhead, Steve Rose, Emine Saner, Alexis Soloski, Ryan Gilbey, Peter Robinson, Andrew Pulver, Rhik Samadder, Hadley Freeman and Rory Carroll.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/dec/19/what-george-clooney-lupita-nyongo-elton-john-and-eddie-the-eagle-taught-us-in-2016