Austin Butler Hopes He Did ‘Justice’ as ‘Elvis’ for Priscilla Presley Who Loved Him ‘Since She Was 14’

Austin Butler took on the role of Elvis Presley in the feature film Elvis with some trepidation. He worried about ensuring his characterization of the role was spot-on for Presley’s millions of fans. However, Butler feared not doing “justice” to the man that Presley’s wife, Priscilla, loved “since she was 14.”

Priscilla Presley and Austin Butler promote the film 'Elvis' at the Cannes Film Festival.
Priscilla Presley and Austin Butler | Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Priscilla Presley was initially very nervous about ‘Elvis’ film

The King’s ex-wife admitted she worried about the film, not genuinely believing anyone could properly portray Presley’s life.

At least nine other actors have attempted to become Presley on the big and small-screen since the entertainer’s death in Aug. 1977.

These included Kurt Russell, who famously played the King in 1979’s television movie Elvis. White Stripes musician Jack White tackled the role in 2007’s Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

Michael Shannon played Presley in the 2016 film Elvis and Nixon. Michael St. Gerard played the King in Great Balls of Fire! (1989).

David Keith portrayed Presley in 1988’s Heartbreak Hotel. Harvey Keitel was a hitchhiker who claimed to be Elvis in the 1989 film Finding Graceland, and Val Kilmer appeared as Presley’s ghost in 1993’s True Romance.

Peter Dobson starred in Protecting the King (2007), a movie about one of Presley’s bodyguards.

Rob Youngblood was the first to tackle the relationship between Presley and his manager Parker, played by actor Beau Bridges. 

Austin Butler was hopeful he did Elvis ‘justice’ for Priscilla Presley

But, Butler told Games Radar that he was hopeful his portrayal of the King did “justice” for Priscilla, Presley’s only wife.

Priscilla and Presley met while he was stationed in Germany as a United States Army soldier from 1957 through 1960. She was 14 and Presley 24 when they first met.

Subsequently, “At the core of it all and paramount to anything, is his family and Priscilla, who’s loved him since she was 14,” he explained.

“They meant so much to each other. And I just wanted her to feel like we did him justice,” Butler continued.

“She was so incredibly specific about the things that she felt his essence. It was such a relief. I just felt my heart soar, where I thought, ‘Now, no matter what anybody else says,’ he concluded.

Butler subsequently broke down in tears upon learning Priscilla liked the film

Priscilla Presley wrote Butler a note expressing her thanks upon seeing the movie for the first time.

Elvis Director Baz Luhrmann relayed his and Butler’s reaction after reading Priscilla’s note.

However, he told Express, “I can tell you, it’s very simple. For Austin and me, there will never be a better review in our life.”

The director continued, “We didn’t know what she would think. We were butterflies. But I can tell you that when she wrote the note, Austin broke down in tears. That is a simple truth. Can you imagine that responsibility?”

Priscilla subsequently followed her note with a public declaration of support for the film.

“For those curious about the new film Elvis, the director recently provided a private screening for me and [Elvis’ friend] Jerry Schilling at Warner studios. This story is about Elvis and [manager] Colonel Parker’s relationship. It is a true story told brilliantly and creatively that only Baz, in his unique artistic way, could have delivered,” the Dallas alum, 76, wrote via Facebook on Friday, April 29.

“Austin Butler, who played Elvis, is outstanding.”

Elvis shimmies into theaters on June 24.

The film will be broadcast on HBO Max 45 days after the debut of its theatrical run.

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