A fitting tribute to the real-life friendship of Elton John and Freddie Mercury
Paramount Pictures presents the US premiere of ROCKETMAN, New York, USA - 29 May 2019
Credit: Dave Allocca/Starpix/REX/Shutterstoc

Can you feel the love tonight?

Oscar-winning Bohemian Rhapsody star Rami Malek came out to celebrate the New York premiere of Rocketman on Thursday night, posing for a friendly photo with Taron Egerton. The actors play Queen frontman Freddie Mercury and Elton John, respectively, in the two biopics, both directed by Dexter Fletcher. (Fletcher stepped in to oversee Rhapsody after original director Bryan Singer was fired more than halfway through production.)

It was a fitting tribute, as music legends John and Mercury were real-life friends.

John, Peter & Freddie
Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In his 2012 book, Love Is the Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS, John shared that the Queen frontman — whom he called “intensely private” offstage — revealed his AIDS diagnosis to John in 1987, years before announcing it publicly. John said he was “devastated” by the revelation, hit hard by Mercury’s death in 1991, and left reeling by an act of friendship from beyond the grave.

“Weeks after the funeral, I was still grieving,” John wrote. Then a friend turned up with a present: a painting by one of John’s favorite artists and a heartwarming note from Mercury. “Years before, Freddie and I had developed pet names for each other, our drag-queen alter egos,” John explained. “I was Sharon and he was Melina. Freddie’s note read, ‘Dear Sharon, I thought you’d like this. Love, Melina. Happy Christmas.’”

John performed “The Show Must Go On” with the surviving members of Queen during the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, just five months after Mercury’s death, saying it was a privilege to be able to “pay homage to someone who I love very much.”

Bohemian Rhapsody earned more than $903 million at the global box office and won four Oscars, including Best Actor for Malek. Rocketman is in theaters now.

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