Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” jams into theaters June 24. The film’s hype just keeps growing, especially after receiving a 12-minute standing ovation after its premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.
With a runtime of 2 hours and 39 minutes, the biopic has received mixed reviews that range from “trainwreck” to “a sharp edit away from being a classic.” According to TIME Magazine’s Stephanie Zacharek, “Luhrmann sees equal value in fact and myth.” The Los Angeles Times’ Justin Chang wrote, “It’s all a bit much, which means it’s just right.”
Audiences will have a chance to find out for themselves later this month, but for now here’s everything we know about “Elvis.”
This is Luhrmann’s first first feature film since 2013’s “The Great Gatsby”:
Besides “The Great Gatsby,” Luhrmann has directed “Australia” (2008), “Moulin Rouge!” (2001), “Romeo + Juliet” (1996) and “Strictly Ballroom” (1992) as well as the Netflix series “The Get Down.” He announced plans to work on the Elvis Presley biopic back in 2014, so this one has been a long time coming.
The film will cover the cultural controversy of Elvis’ stardom
Elvis became an icon throughout the fifties, sixties and seventies, finding his roots in Black gospel church music. While the film focuses on his life, it also acknowledges the cultural context of what was happening around Elvis. When Elvis was a young boy, he became heavily inspired by Black church gospel music. A major controversy of the hip-swayer is whether he amplified Blackness through his performance or appropriated it. The Civil Rights movement unfolds in the background of the film.
Butler gave everything he had to the role
In a recent interview with GQ, Austin Butler detailed his immersive work into the icon that was Elvis. When filming wrapped in 2021, Butler realized just how much a toll the role took on his body. He was rushed to the hospital early the next morning after he woke up in pain, and later he was diagnosed with a virus that simulates appendicitis, spending a week in bed.
Yes, Austin Butler is really singing… for part of the movie
Butler was committed to the musical aspect of “Elvis,” saying, “When I began the process of this, I wanted to get my voice to sound identical to his.” So for Elvis’ early songs, you’ll hear Butler’s voice. But as Elvis gets older and starts recording his more iconic songs, Luhrmann blended Butler’s voice with Presley’s voice, so it becomes a mix of the two.
Some other famous faces will make appearances alongside Austin Butler and Tom Hanks
The biopic will star Austin Butler as The King himself, and Tom Hanks will star alongside Butler as Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’ manager. Both men really went after their roles, with Hanks looking very different in his prosthetic makeup.
“Stranger Things” star Dacre Montgomery is set to play Steve Binder. “The Power of Dog’s” Kodi Smit-McPhee will appear as Jimmi Rogers. Luke Bracey will play Jerry Schilling, and David Wenham will portray Hank Snow. Olivia DeJonge will play Priscilla Presley.
Black musicians like B.B. King (Kevin Harrison Jr.), Little Richard (Alton Mason) and Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Yola), who all influenced Elvis one way or another, will appear in the story.
The soundtrack might be even more star-studded than the cast
Original songs and recordings set to appear in the film will not only come from Elvis Aaron Presley himself, but obviously Austin Butler who plays him. Other artists collaborating on the soundtrack include Ann Nesby, Alton Mason, Chris Isaak, Denzel Curry, Doja Cat, Eminem & Ceelo Green, Gary Clark Jr., Jack White, Lenesha Randolph, Jazmine Sullivan, Kacey Musgraves, Kodi-Smit-McPhee, Les Greene, Måneskin, Nardo Wick, Paravi, Pnau, Rufus Thomas, Shonka Dukureh, Stevie Nicks, Swae Lee & Diplo, Tame Impala and Yola.
Lisa Marie Presley and Priscilla Presley approve of the film
After seeing the film, Priscilla posted her review to Instagram:
“I’ve seen Elvis the film, I watched the trailer over a dozen times. But the words I heard from my daughter on how much she loved the film and that Riley will love it too when she sees it brought tears. I relived every moment in this film. It took me a few days to overcome the emotions as it did with Lisa. Beautifully done Baz, Tom, Austin and Olivia.”
Lisa Marie Presley tweeted her praise of the portrayal of her father:
“Baz, your utter genius combined with your love and respect for my father and this project is just so beautiful and so inspiring. I know I’m being repetitive, but I don’t care, Thank you for setting the record straight in such a deeply profound and artistic way.
Love you” ~LMP