'Gnomeo and Juliet' was 11 years in the making.

Elton John - who is executive producer for the animated film, as well as working on its soundtrack - admitted the movie had many "near-death experiences" as a result of being part of the Disney corporation, as people in the US didn't know what to do with gnomes.

He explained: "From the word go it has taken 11 years to get this film out. The last three or four years when we've made it has been easy but it's had so many near-death experiences as a result of being in the Disney corporation. People didn't really know what to do with gnomes In America.

"So Dick Cook, who became the president of the studio, said, 'You go away, do this film the way you want to do, with your British cast. We've tried to mess it up so many times'. So that's what we did."

Meanwhile, the 63-year-old star - who recently welcomed his first child Zachary with partner David Furnish - admitted he was only named as executive producer on the movie to "protect" the rest of his team, as it got things done faster.

He added to BBC Radio 3: "An executive producer? It means when things are bad - and they got bad - I pick up the phone to the studio and I go, 'Listen, we need to talk here, things are going bad.'

"Really, basically I protect my production team. The Elton Factor is if I ring up the studio they are going to take my call quicker than if its one of the production team. And also I can ring Michael Caine and say, 'Can you do this?' So really I'm protecting my film and protecting my production staff."