Austin Butler Beat Harry Styles and Other Hot Actors for Lead in Elvis Presley Biopic

Austin Butler’s breakout role as the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, came with a series of hurdles to overcome. These included beating out some of the hottest and most recognizable young actors in the entertainment industry, including Harry Styles, Miles Teller, and Ansel Elgort. However, Luhrmann ultimately went with the 30-year-old television and movie veteran due to what he believed was Butler’s “inner vulnerability.”

Austin Butler, Elvis Presley and Harry Styles in side-by-side photographs.
Austin Butler, Elvis Presley, and Harry Styles | Getty Images/Kevin Winter/Redferns/Kevin Mazur

What is ‘Elvis’ about?

Elvis will explore “the life and music of Elvis Presley. This is seen through the prism of his complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker,” said a press release.  

It subsequently continued, “The story delves into the complex dynamic between Presley and Parker. It spans over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom. This is against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America.” 

Elvis follows the King’s career from his childhood in Tupelo, MS, to achieving worldwide stardom in the 1950s and 1960s.

The film shows how Presley’s fame ran subsequently alongside major societal events, including race relations in the south and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. It also explores his marriage to Priscilla Presley and fatherhood to daughter Lisa Marie.

Luhrmann first dropped the trailer for Elvis on Feb. 17 via Twitter.

He tweeted, “Without further ado, it’s time to TCB [lightning emoji] So here’s the trailer made with TLC.” 

Why did Luhrmann choose Austin Butler over other, more known actors?

Luhrmann claimed that Butler had what he was looking for when it came to his interpretation of the King of Rock and Roll.

“I knew I couldn’t make this film if the casting weren’t absolutely right. We searched thoroughly for an actor with the ability to evoke the singular natural movement and vocal qualities of this peerless star. Also capturing the inner vulnerability of the artist,” Luhrmann said in a statement to Deadline.

Luhrmann concluded, “I had heard about Austin Butler from his stand-out role opposite Denzel Washington in The Iceman Cometh on Broadway.”

“Through a journey of extensive screen testing, music and performance workshops, I knew unequivocally that I had found someone who could embody the spirit of one of the world’s most iconic musical figures.”

Along with Butler, Oscar-winner Tom Hanks plays Colonel Tom Parker.

In addition, Kelvin Harrison Jr joins the lead actors as blues legend B.B. King. Olivia DeJonge plays Priscilla Presley, and Helen Thomson is featured as Elvis’s mother, Gladys. Richard Roxburgh will portray Elvis’s father, Vernon.

Subsequently, Luke Bracey portrays Jerry Schilling, Natasha Bassett is Dixie Locke, and David Wenham is Hank Snow.

Xavier Samuel plays Scotty Moore, and Kodi Smit-McPhee is Jimmie Rodgers Snow.

Harry Styles said this about losing the lead part in ‘Elvis’

Harry Styles singing on stage wearing black leather during his European Tour.
Harry Styles | Helene Marie Pambrun via Getty Images

In an interview with The Face, Styles said the following about ultimately losing the iconic role to Butler.

“I feel like if I’m not the right person for the thing, then it’s best for both of us that I don’t do it, you know?” the former One Direction singer said of not being cast as Presley.

On the other hand, Styles said, “There was something almost sacred about him, almost like I didn’t want to touch him. Then I ended up getting into [his life] a bit, and I wasn’t disappointed.”

Elvis will be released in theaters on June 24.

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