There’s been talk about filmmaker Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis for what seems like a decade already. It started with things like “who will play Elvis Presley?” “What about Priscilla Presley?” “Will the actor who gets the titular role actually have to choke down a peanut butter/bacon/banana sandwich on the toilet during filming?” Maybe that last one was just me. Now that the movie is in the can and we know all of the “whos,” Baz revealed some of the “whys.” People like Ansel Elgort, G-Eazy, Miles Teller and Harry Styles were talked about as possible Elvis-es before the role ultimately went to Austin Butler. Baz recently revealed the rationale behind one candidate getting tossed out: Harry Styles didn’t get it because he’s already Harry Styles.
Baz was recently on the Australian radio podcast “Fitzy & Wippa” and was open about why Harry wasn’t the right fit for the esteemed role (besides the fact that he has absolutely no crumb of a resemblance to Elvis and this isn’t a Mick Jagger biopic). via Variety:
“Harry is a really talented actor. I would work on something with him [but] the real issue with Harry is, he’s Harry Styles,” Luhrmann said. “He’s already an icon. Harry and I came to a place, genuinely I mean, he was just desperate to put the suit on and explore. He’s such a great spirit and I have nothing but great things to say about Harry Styles.”
“Put the suit on and ‘explore’?” Is the Elvis-life really that foreign of a concept to him? Harry, your screaming fans and closet full of sparkles, spandex, and boas would like a word. Baz then went on to explain why Austin was the perfect fit for the role:
Luhrmann continued, “The thing about Austin was that he will tell you himself, I didn’t pick him: It’s as if he was drawn, like the role drew them in, because he was almost born to play it. You know, we can talk about it now, he like loses his mom at the same age that Elvis did. He sends a video to me with this thing and… He just happened like two years non-stop living and breathing as Elvis. He’s now going through a sort of, it’s like, deprogramming thing because he’s been a long time since he’s known who he was.” Butler sent Luhrmann an audition tape that featured him singing a broken down version of “Unchained Melody,” which helped seal the deal in the actor’s favor.
And as we know, Austin ended up pouring so much of his heart and soul into the role, he fell physically ill (“but could it just have been from all of the sandwiches?” I pondered).
Elvis ended up receiving a 12-minute standing ovation at the Cannes film festival last month and Lisa Marie Presley said that Austin did her dad justice and deserves an Oscar, so Baz must have made the right choice. Besides, Harry already has two other movies coming out later this year–Don’t Worry Darling and My Policeman, so it’s nice that his Elvis rejection allows someone else to get to be the material of 2022’s creamed jeans.
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