‘Elvis’: Priscilla Presley Introduced Austin Butler to Elvis’s Spirit

There will only ever be one Elvis Presley, but Austin Butler came pretty close playing him in the movie Elvis. Butler embodied Presley so much his health suffered at points. Butler says he felt Presley’s spirit when he visited Graceland, thanks to the singer’s ex-wife Priscilla who agreed Elvis’s spirit is still there.

Elvis is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD. In the bonus features, Butler discusses Presley’s spirit and meeting Priscilla at Elvis’s famous home in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Priscilla Presley believes the spirit of Elvis Presley resides at Graceland 

As part of his prep with co-writer and director Baz Luhrmann, Butler visited the real Graceland. Priscilla met them there and briefed Butler on not only what he was about to see, but what he was about to feel in Elvis’s home. 

“Baz and I ,we got to go to Graceland before we started filming,” Butler said. “Right before we went in I got to meet Priscilla. She said, ‘Have you been inside the house yet?’ I said no. She said, ‘I truly believe that’s where his spirit is.’”

Austin Butler felt the spirit of Elvis Presley 

Butler didn’t take Priscilla’s words lightly. He absorbed the spirit of Elvis in Graceland and carried that with him to the set of the film in Australia, where they recreated the home. 

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“I went in there and spent the whole day in there by myself,” Butler said. “It’s just amazing. It was remarkable getting to be there and suddenly be in Australia and see the sets and how much they feel like the real thing.”

The spirit of Elvis must have touched Butler because the actor claimed the singer’s soul was in his performance. He even continued acting like Elvis after filming wrapped. 

The Graceland in the movie wasn’t exactly the one Priscilla Presley lived at

Elvis fans who’ve been to Graceland will recognize the home in the film, even though they recreated it in Australia. Production Designer Catherine Martin said, with access to the plans of Graceland for all the decades Elvis lived there, they stuck with the version of Graceland most Elvis fans have visited. 

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We used Graceland as very much the symbol and expression of his success. We see it from the exterior, when he first arrives at Graceland with his parents. We see its first incarnation in the 50s when they’ve moved in and done a number of renovations. The house, for instance, had floorboards they carpeted all in red carpet. Although there were many changes from the 50s through the late 70s, Baz felt it was important to take the house as it is now because, in millions of people’s minds around the world, that’s what we all think of Graceland. That became a symbol for us for the peak of Elvis’s career and an expression of what we know as Elvis’s material. 

Catherine Martin, Elvis Blu-ray

What do you think? Is the spirit of Elvis in Graceland? Did Butler and the Elvis filmmakers capture that spirit in the film? 

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