The latest news on Baz Luhrmann’s
new Elvis Presley film
The release of the film “ELVIS” is set for June 24, 2022.
2021 Updates on Elvis Presley film
Short teaser released on November 15, 2021:
Exclusive video from February 2021 of the film set in Australia:
The movie will be based on the book, Colonel Tom Parker: The Curious Life of Elvis Presley’s Eccentric Manager by James Dickerson. Warner Bros. acquired the rights to the book in 2018.
In June 2021, Dickerson stated on his Facebook page that there are plans for the film to be made into a Broadway musical. This would not be surprising since another film of director Baz Luhrmann’s, Moulin Rouge, has been adapted into a Broadway musical.
The script was written by Baz Lurhmann and Craig Pearce.
In August 2021, during Elvis Week, Priscilla Presley commented that she had met with both Tom Hanks (“Tom was great. I stayed talking at his house for four or five hours”) and Luhrmann.
According to The Commercial Appeal, Priscilla added that Luhrmann had promised to send her a script of the film, but that she had not received it. “Which makes me nervous,” said Presley. “I don’t know what he’s planning on doing…He does come out with great films. I just don’t know what direction he’s going to take it in.” She added, jokingly, that “if it’s good then I had everything to do with it, and if it’s not, I didn’t.”
[pictured (L-R): Director Baz Luhrmann, Actress Olivia DeJonge (Priscilla),
Actor Austin Butler (Elvis) in November 2019]
The managing partner of Graceland Holdings, Joel Weinshanker, also gave an interview about the film:
“Tom Hanks is absolutely, transformationally unbelievable in his performance as Colonel Tom Parker,” Weinshaker said. “Such time and care was taken into the making of this movie. It’s very easy to empathize with Elvis and this movie makes it even easier. This is what’s going to pass down to the next generation and the next generation. This is going to get a whole new generation of fans.”
“It’s a movie that’s so lush and so big,” Weinshanker added. “A lot of this movie, you’re able to look at Memphis, look at Tupelo, through Elvis’ eyes. Not in a documentary way. If you think about how big Elvis’ eyes were when he first went into a church and heard gospel, how important that was.”
Angie Marchese, Vice President of Archives and Exhibits at Elvis Presley Enterprises, told Express (UK): “Yes, we’ve worked really closely with Baz and his team for research. We have sent photos, measurements, materials, coloring patterns; everything for clothing. Also room designs [and] images sizing for different rooms. So we’ve been working really closely with their team for accuracy of everything from sets to taking the actors through tour here.”
The movie was not filmed at Graceland. Graceland was recreated on the set in Australia where the movie was filmed.
Meet the cast of the upcoming
Elvis Presley biopic
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 film explores the life and music of Presley focusing on the complicated relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. It was a partnership that spanned over 20 years, enabling Presley’s rise to unprecedented stardom. The film is being directed by Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge) and is scheduled for release by Warner Bros. in June 2022.
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.
In October 2019, it was announced that young Australian actress Olivia DeJonge will play Priscilla Beaulieu.
2020 Updates on Elvis Presley film
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. Film production resumed again in the summer of 2020.
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. Due to filming delays and scheduling conflicts as a result of the coronavirus, a few of the roles had to be recast.
In September 2020, it was announced that Gladys Presley would be portrayed by Helen Thomson, an award-winning theater actress who also appeared in “Top of the Lake: China Girl.” Richard Roxburgh, who worked with Luhrmann on Moulin Rouge, will portray Elvis’s father, Vernon Presley.
Other roles cast include Presley’s friends, George Klein, Charlie Hodge and Jerry Schilling; musicians Hank Snow and Bill Black; and producer Steve Binder. 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. [For a full list of cast members, visit the film’s IMDB page. ]
In December 2020, Tom Hanks talked about the film in an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
“He was both a genius and a scoundrel,” Hanks said of Parker, Presley’s manager. “He was a very disciplined man, but also a guy who you might want to check your wallet to make sure you still have all those fives and 10s.”
Hanks was surprised to learn how Priscilla Presley felt about Colonel Parker:
“I was expecting to hear stories about the distrust she had for Colonel Tom Parker over these many years. And she said, ‘No. He was a wonderful man, and I wish he was alive today. He took really great care of us. He was a scoundrel in his way’,” Hanks said.
Author’s note: Although the stereotype of Colonel Parker is extremely negative, as viewed by many Elvis fans and in the media, don’t believe all the hype! As I discuss in my second book, Elvis And The Beatles, there are many positive attributes that people do not know about The Colonel including:
- He organized many charity events that Elvis took part in, including raising funds for the memorial at Pearl Harbor
- He was very helpful to The Beatles and their manager, Brian Epstein
- After Brian Epstein died, The Beatles wanted Colonel Parker as their manager