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Baz Luhrmann and Tom Hanks Talk Elvis and Austin Butler

Out of the handfuls of real-life-inspired musician stories we have seen on the large display, Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” is in contrast to another. The director’s greatest movie so far — with a cast that options Austin Butler, Olivia Dejonge, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Alton Mason, and Yola — can also be his most formidable, utilizing the angle of Elvis Presley’s former supervisor, Colonel Tom Parker (portrayed by Tom Hanks), to inform the story of the rock ‘n’ roll icon we’ve but to listen to.

“It’s not a biopic. I did not got down to do [one].”

Between the movie’s whimsical intro and its fast-moving plot that crams Elvis’s total profession into 159 minutes, “Elvis” just isn’t the biopic followers predict. In truth, Luhrmann has by no means even used that phrase to explain the film. “It’s not a biopic. I did not got down to do [one],” he tells POPSUGAR. “Anything I do, I would like it to be useful for the place we at the moment are; helpful sooner or later.”

Luhrmann’s model of helpful did not contain making the identical Presley film we have already seen. Instead, he aimed to create a larger-than-life movie to shed extra mild on Parker’s function within the late singer’s profession and what number of blame him for the star’s decline. Luhrmann’s Presley story additionally treads on the political facet because it focuses on a few of America’s most controversial eras — the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, aka “the nice, the unhealthy, and the ugly,” because the director places it. “It’s this big life, and I believed [the “Elvis” plot] was an incredible canvas to have these underlying larger concepts,” Luhrmann provides. “So that is what I used to be gunning for.”

“I stated [to Luhrmann], ‘That’s new stuff. In that case, meaning you make a brand-new film about Elvis.'”

When Luhrmann determined to make “Elvis,” he already had Hanks in thoughts as his narrator and antagonist. “‘I’d like to return over and speak to you a couple of mission I’ve, however I would like you to know earlier than I come over, it is about Elvis,'” Hanks recollects of a dialog between him and Luhrmann. “I simply thought, ‘Why would you be coming to speak to me about Elvis? To play [his father] Vernon?’ . . . But he came visiting and stated, ‘Look, nobody is aware of the story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis. There would’ve by no means been Colonel Tom Parker had been it not for Elvis, however there by no means would’ve been Elvis had been it not for Colonel Tom Parker.”

Hanks admits he’d by no means seen a photograph of Parker nor heard his voice. But one of many first traces within the “Elvis” script intrigued him sufficient to say sure to starring within the movie. “[Luhrmann] says, ‘I would like this film to start out with, basically, Colonel Tom Parker saying, ‘I did not kill him,'” the actor says. “I heard that and I stated, ‘OK, the Elvis Presley story has by no means been informed like that.’ . . . With this new component of the man who made all of Elvis’s desires come true, and then additionally did not fairly understand the nice, grander desires that Elvis had, I stated [to Luhrmann], ‘That’s new stuff. In that case, meaning you make a brand-new film about Elvis.’ And I like making brand-new motion pictures.”

“I made a rule that if I could not discover somebody who might be Elvis or play him, I would not make the film.”

Luhrmann’s “Elvis” film wasn’t concerning the director’s fandom for Presley, “it was extra telling this grand story,” he remarks. To inform a narrative as imaginative, daring, and vigorous as Luhrmann’s Presley flick, he wanted an actor with sufficient star energy to match it — and he discovered Butler.

“I made a rule that if I could not discover somebody who might be Elvis or play him, I would not make the film,” Luhrmann reveals. “So I form of thought like, ‘Great, I’ll get in, do all of the analysis, run world wide, do all of the enjoyable stuff, and not need to make the film, as a result of I’ll by no means discover somebody who can play Elvis.’ But [instead], I feel Austin discovered me.”

From the second Luhrmann acquired Butler’s casual audition tape of him singing Presley’s “Unchained Melody,” the director knew he discovered his main man. And earlier than lengthy, the similarities between the 2 stars had been simple. After a yr and a half of preparation, Butler received his Presley portrayal down pat — from the singer’s voice to his stroll to his wild dance moves. Luhrmann knew he made the appropriate casting determination, even when others could not acknowledge Butler’s abilities.

“[That’s why] I put the video on the market,” he says of a recent clip he posted of Butler on social media. “Because individuals do not consider he sings the younger Elvis [vocals]. Even although I put that video out on TikTook, I’m nonetheless getting individuals going, ‘Yeah, however is he really singing?’ So even with my huge expertise of filmmaking, the Austin journey is like no different.”

“Elvis” premieres in theaters worldwide on June 24.

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