With the success of Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) and Rocketman (2019) as a precedent, another high-budget film about a musical legend is on the way, one of the most iconic in history. Bliss biopic upon Elvis presley He has been in the oven for a long time and will delve into the rise of this Mississippi native to become the king of rock & roll. Here is everything we know about this production, from its interesting cast to some details of its development.
The beginnings of the project
The beginnings go back more than five years ago. The Wrap reported in the spring of 2014 that the celebrated director Baz Luhrmann (Red Mill!) was in talks with Warner Bros. to head up a biopic about rock & roll icon Elvis Presley. At that time, it was said that Kelly Marcel (who would later write the two tapes Venom) is already working on the script of the film, without taking as a basis «any material [fílmico o literario] preexisting”. The outlet also claimed that WB had “secured the rights to all musical components in Presley’s catalog” for the feature film.
After that exclusive, five years passed without major updates on the project. It was in March 2019 that juicy information emerged again: the signing of Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker, who served as manager of Presley from 1955 until the singer’s death in the 1970s. At the time of the report, Luhrmann was already secured in the directing chair, but Marcel had been replaced by the screenwriter. Craig Pearce (The great Gatsby), who worked together with the director on the final draft.
In July of that year, five candidates for the role of the King of Rock were announced, all with previous experience in major film productions: Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver), Harry Styles (Dunkerque), Miles Teller (Whiplash), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla) and Austin Butler (Once upon a time in hollywood). The latter was the one who days later obtained the coveted role for the film by Baz Luhrmann, a director who at the time claimed to have found in Butler “someone who could embody the spirit of one of the most emblematic musical figures in the world.”
The cast: Who is Austin Butler?
The 20-something Californian was probably the least known of the five candidates to play Elvis Presley (and by a wide margin). Even so, it can be said that Austin Butler’s acting career began more than ten years ago, with his brief intervention in shows juvenile like iCarly, Zoey 101 and The Wizards of Waverly Place, between 2007 and 2010. Later, he played the role of “Wilke” in the series Switched at Birth (2011-2012) and Sebastian Kydd in The Carrie Diaries (2013-2014).
As for his foray into the big screen, Butler has worked under the direction of Kevin Smith, Jim Jarmusch and Quentin Tarantino, respectively, on the films Yoga Hosers (2016), The Dead Don’t Die (2019) and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019). In this latest title, nominated for an Oscar for Best Film, the actor played a real-life character for the first time: Tex Watson, the deranged henchman of Charles Manson.
Although none of the above gives him credits of a musical nature – which would be expected from someone in the shoes of the singer behind Love Me Tender-, Butler has declared to have started his relationship with music from the age of nine, through violin lessons. Later he would become a passionate guitarist, to the point where he “played so much that my fingers bled.”
The cast headed by Austin Butler (Elvis Presley) and Tom Hanks (Colonel Tom Parker) are complemented by, among others:
- Olivia DeJonge (The Society), as Priscilla Presley, the musician’s wife and president of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
- Luke Bracey (Hacksaw Ridge), as Jerry Schilling, Elvis’s partner in the so-called “Memphis Mafia.”
- Kelvin Harrison Jr. (Waves), like BB King, the “King of the blues.”
- Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things), as producer and director Steve Binder.
- on the road, like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the “godmother of rock & roll”.
Originalmente, Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight) y Rufus Sewell (Judy) were to impersonate the parents of the musical icon, Gladys and Vernon Presley. In the end, due to scheduling problems, both actors had to resign from the project. Those characters then fell into the hands of Helen Thompson (Bad Mothers) and Richard Roxburgh (The Crown).
In early 2020, the pre-production of the biopic Elvis Presley’s (still untitled) was making huge strides in the Gold Coast, Australia, where filming was scheduled to begin. However, as we well know, in March of that year the pandemic of coronavirus and Tom Hanks – present in the oceanic nation on the occasion of this Warner project – became the first great celebrity to contract COVID-19, along with his wife Rita Wilson. Days later, development on “Elvis” was suspended indefinitely, with Baz Luhrmann declaring that production would resume “as soon as the time was right.”
After six months, the director confirmed that Tom Hanks (already recovered from the disease) had returned to Australia and that the filming of the film would begin on September 23, 2020 in Queensland.
“We’re back, as Elvis liked to say, ‘taking care of business!'” Luhrmann commented (via). “It is a true privilege at this unprecedented global moment that Tom Hanks has been able to return to Australia to join Austin Butler and all of our extraordinary cast and crew as they begin production.”
Until the first half of 2021, the filming of the biopic has not concluded. The latest news came from Hanks himself, who in a remote conversation with Graham Norton revealed a peculiar (and “horrible”) haircut for his portrayal of Tom Parker.
Little is known of the argument that sustains this biographical drama. In this regard, WB has only described a story that “delves into the complex dynamics [entre Elvis y Parker], spanning more than 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of America’s evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence ”(via).
The next one biopic About Elvis Presley, produced by the Baz Luhrmann couple and Catherine Martin (also a production designer), is expected to hit theaters on November 5, 2021. On the other hand, it is unknown if it will be added to the list of Warner films that – according to what the company planned – will have a simultaneous premiere on HBO Max.
Antonio G. Spinola I have very bad memory. Out of solidarity with my memories, I choose to lose myself too. Preferably in a movie theater.
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All about the new Elvis Presley biopic, with Austin Butler and Tom Hanks