Producer David Furnish and Elton John became parents of a new baby on Christmas Day. Furnish’s latest movie is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet featuring garden gnomes.
Q: Your producing portfolio is quite diverse. In 1999 you produced Women Talking Dirty, in 2005 you produced the Broadway version of Billy Elliot and, most recently, you produced your first animated feature Gnomeo & Juliet. What common thread runs through all your projects?
A: I hope a thread that promotes inclusiveness. When Elton and I work on things, we want to invest our time, creativity and energy in things that hopefully bring the world closer together, not further apart. If you look at Gnomeo & Juliet, the movie’s message essentially says it doesn’t matter if you’re a “red” or a “blue,” at the end of the day, parents should love their children and want what’s best for them. Elton and I try not to be judgmental people. We are not advocates in the placard-carrying way, we just try to live our life by example.
Q: Do you think Gnomeo & Juliet‘s anti-war message is something children should learn about at an early age?
A: I do. We live in a confused world at the moment. It’s a world that seems to be less about tolerance and less about togetherness. People seem to be more and more divided. There is such [debate] over civil rights for all couples and [laws surrounding] people just wanting to have marriage or some form of civil union to ratify their relationship. Many seem to be tarring a lot of Muslims with the same brush. What’s happening in terms of terrorism has been such a tiny sect of extreme people within a religion. I think people get fearful of things they don’t know or understand. Out of ignorance and fear comes judgment and division.
Q: Gnomeo & Juliet has already made over $55 million at the box office. Did you think it would be this successful when you signed on?
A: It’s just nice to be in a situation after 11 years where we can see it finally find its wings and people are responding. It’s a big dream come true.
Q: In 1997, you directed a documentary about Elton John called Tantrums & Tiaras. Elton fans keep asking for a sequel. Would you consider making one?
A: I had a whole layer of objectivity then that I don’t know if I can bring to our world anymore. There has been such evolution and growth in both of us since that was made. I don’t think it will be entertaining anymore because Elton is much more settled, happier and more centred. Having Zack has been another step in our evolution and a grounding influence for both of us.
Q: Speaking of Zachary, what was your first reaction to the news that a Harps grocery store in Arkansas decided to place a family shield protective cover over the Us Weekly magazine that you, Zachary and Elton posed for?
A: I was disappointed but not outraged. They put the shield up and two days later, they took it down. That is progress in its own right.
Q: What do you think needs to happen for the majority of Republicans to accept gay families?
A: People have to realize that these issues take time and this is a new concept and the world is not going to change overnight. As far as Elton and I are concerned, we try to be good people, we are going to try our best to be good parents. People will realize the sky is not going to fall because we have a son.
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