Tom Hanks will play Colonel Parker and Austin Butler will play Elvis Presley in an upcoming movie about The King of Rock and Roll. The untitled film is being directed by Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge) and is scheduled for release by Warner Bros. on November 5, 2021.
The movie will focus on Elvis Presley’s relationship with Colonel Parker. Priscilla Presley mentioned in a 2019 interview that she has discussed the movie with Luhrmann and that the Presley family is very much involved:
“Baz has been over to my home a couple times for lunch with his beautiful wife and talked about all the things that he wants to do with the film – and this is with Elvis and The Colonel. So it’s going to be a very interesting picture. Of course, with Baz it’s going to be stylized very different and I think a different take and something quite honest. We’re looking forward to it. We’re very involved.”
The screenplay is being co-written by Baz Lurhmann along with Sam Bromell, Kelly Marcel and Craig Pearce. In March 2019, after it was announced that Tom Hanks had signed on to play Colonel Parker, Baz Luhrmann started posting several photos of himself on social media visiting famous Elvis Presley locations, including Graceland in Memphis where he was doing research at the archives.
In July 2019, 27-year-old actor Austin Butler was cast in the role of Elvis Presley. Butler has had an extensive acting career starting as a teenager in television, and later moving on to Broadway and film. He recently appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
“I knew I couldn’t make this film if the casting wasn’t absolutely right, and we searched thoroughly for an actor with the ability to evoke the singular natural movement and vocal qualities of this peerless star, but also the inner vulnerability of the artist,” Luhrmann told Deadline.com. “I had heard about Austin Butler from his stand-out role opposite Denzel Washington in The Iceman Cometh on Broadway, and through a journey of extensive screen testing and 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.”
Baz Luhrmann took Butler along with him while doing research in Tupelo, Mississippi at Elvis Presley’s birthplace. He posted a picture on October 1, 2019 of Austin standing at the entrance to Tupelo Hardware, the place where Presley’s parents bought him his first guitar.
Focusing on the early part of Presley’s career, Luhrmann has also cast actors for the roles of Presley’s parents, Gladys and Vernon. Gladys Presley died in 1958, when Presley was only 23 years old. Maggie Gyllenhaal will play Gladys…
and Rufus Sewell will play Vernon.
In October 2019, it was announced that young Australian actress Olivia DeJonge will play Priscilla Beaulieu.
Other roles cast include George Klein, Memphis DJ and high school classmate of Elvis, to be played by Alex Radu. Also, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, known as “The Godmother of Rock and Roll,” will be portrayed by Yola. She was the first gospel singer to have a song cross over to the R&B charts, and was said to be an influence on Elvis, Chuck Berry and Johnny Cash.
Filming began in Luhrmann’s native country of Australia in January 2020, but was halted in March when lead actor, Tom Hanks, tested positive for the coronavirus. As of June 2020, it was reported that production of the film is scheduled to start again very soon.