Elton John
(© Tristan Fuge)
Elton John
(© Tristan Fuge)
Elton John has sold over 250 million albums, winning six Grammy Awards in the process; penned the scores to four Broadway shows, including the Tony Award-winning Aida, Billy Elliot, and The Lion King; and has raised over 220 billion dollars for AIDS research. So it's a little odd to discover that for the past decade. he's been spending much of his time with garden gnomes.

"If you had told me 'you're going to make a film about gnomes,' I would have thought you were crazy!" laughs John, who has served as the executive producer of the new animated feature Gnomeo and Juliet and filled the soundtrack with a short anthology of his greatest hits. "This is the joyous thing about being a creative person; things can come along that will completely surprise you and that you never thought of doing."

The animated retelling of Romeo and Juliet -- which features the voices of James McAvoy as Gnomeo, Emily Blunt as Juliet, as well as Jason Statham, Maggie Smith, Michael Caine, Ozzy Osborne and Patrick Stewart -- sets its ceramic star-crossed lovers in adjacent English backyard gardens. "I loathe gardening," he says, adding that his love/hate relationship began when as a kid he was made to mow and weed his grandmother's garden. "Now I have two beautiful gardens, but cannot bear gardening! But I love gardens!"

The film's soundtrack boasts classic John songs like "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting", "Tiny Dancer", "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" and "Your Song" plus two new songs (one of which, "Hello, Hello" a duet with Lady Gaga can only be heard in theaters) -- all of which were written by John and his longtime songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin. "I love the journey of collaboration," he says. "That's why I like doing the musicals. You hold hands when things are going badly and hold hands when things are going well."

Elton John gnome from Gnomeo and Juliet
(© Miramax Film NY, LLC.)
Elton John gnome from Gnomeo and Juliet
(© Miramax Film NY, LLC.)
Teamwork is also the key to his personal happiness. In December, the 63-year-old rocker and his partner of 17 years, David Furnish, became first-time fathers when son Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John was born. "It's been surprising that it's been very relaxing because this little soul that you're feeding and bathing and telling bedtime stories to is a blank canvas," he says. "All it needs is loving and nurturing. It's a wonderful feeling."

The man who says he 'loves the energy of the new' is also ready to explore his next bit of uncharted territory. I'd like to make a really great film about my life story," he says. "It's not going to be your run of the mill film because my life's been crazy. I think it's important that it's a surrealistic view of my life."

And while the storyline of Elton John's life has its low points -- such as drug addiction and the loss of famous friends like John Lennon and Princess Diana -- it also has a happy ending. "I have a wonderful life, a wonderful partner and friends. I really relish it and love it."