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As Elton John in 'Rocketman,' Tom Hardy's big switch

Tom HardyElton JohnBronson (movie)The Dark Knight Rises (movie)This Means War (movie)War Horse (movie)James Gandolfini

After playing beefy tough guys in films such as "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Bronson," while also trying his hand at a romantic leading man role in "This Means War," Tom Hardy will soon take on a very different role: that of Elton John in the biopic "Rocketman."

Hardy is showing himself to be among the most unpredictably diverse actors of today. Next year will see the release of the moody "Locke" and the crime-drama "Animal Rescue," also starring Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini. And Hardy will also take over for Mel Gibson in the upcoming extension of the Mad Max franchise, "Fury Road."

Directed by Michael Gracey -- also attached to a biopic of P.T. Barnum starring Hugh Jackman -- the film will be written by Lee Hall, whose previous credits include "Billy Elliot" and the adaptation of "War Horse."

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John is said to be re-recording some of his biggest hits for the movie, which would seem ready-made for a subsequent adaptation as a stage musical. With John's partner, David Furnish, among the project's producers, "Rocketman" will presumably be a tale more of triumph than tragedy. The film is being made by the recently restructured Focus Features.

Pop piano virtuosos are enjoying something of a vogue in Hollywood. The Hardy/John announcement comes on the heels of Michael Douglas' Emmy-winning turn as Liberace in "Behind the Candelabra." And Sacha Baron Cohen recently departed a biopic project of Queen singer Freddie Mercury, with "Skyfall" actor Ben Whishaw rumored to now be up for the role.

Because we simply cannot help ourselves, behold the legendary performance of John's "Rocket Man" by William Shatner:

ALSO:

'Dark Knight Rises': Tom Hardy, a Brando for Blu-ray era?

Venice Film Fest: Tom Hardy wows in taut, minimalist 'Locke'

Indie Focus: 'Bronson' shows inner chaos of violent British prisoner

Follow Mark Olsen on Twitter: @IndieFocus

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Tom HardyElton JohnBronson (movie)The Dark Knight Rises (movie)This Means War (movie)War Horse (movie)James Gandolfini
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