Actor Austin Butler spent the better part of two years filming Baz Luhrman’s Elvis biopic embodying the persona of the King of Rock and Roll. He studied Presley’s actions, learned his mannerisms, and worked with a vocal coach to closely deliver a performance the King of Rock and Roll’s fans would consider a homage to Elvis Presley.
However, there was one person with whom Butler spoke whose opinion seemed to matter above all others. Presley’s wife, Priscilla, gave her blessing as the actor took on the daunting task of playing her late husband on the big screen. Priscilla’s support gave the 30-year-old Butler the validation he needed to deliver what some Presley fans have said is the performance of a lifetime.
‘Elvis’ director Baz Luhrmann claimed Austin Butler had the qualities needed for the role
Luhrmann said he had specific wants for the actor who would lead his biopic about one of the most influential people ever in the music industry.
“I knew I couldn’t make this film if the casting weren’t 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.”
Austin Butler met Priscilla Presley and said she ‘took his breath away’
In a YouTube interview with Nelson George, Luhrman and Butler spoke of when they visited Memphis, Tennessee, and met Presley’s only wife.
“We were in Nashville. I say to Austin, ‘do you want to drive to Memphis?’ On the way there, I get a phone call, and we head to Graceland,” Luhrmann shared.
“Priscilla was at Graceland. Do you think she’s like to meet Austin?”
Butler then took over the story. The actor said, “I walk in, and I’m just waiting in the living room. Eventually, she walks in. She’s so ethereal.”
“It took my breath away,” Butler continued.
Priscilla Presley gave Austin Butler ‘a lot of support’ in portraying her beloved Elvis
Butler shared that the moment he met Priscilla was “profound.”
“She looked me in the eyes. Something so profound about staring into the eyes meant so much to Elvis. It gives me chills right now. She said, ‘you have a lot of support,'” he shared.
“She hugged me, and that was so huge for me getting that blessing,” Butler shared.
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 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 movie is set against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America.”