First look at Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, as trailer drops

<i>Elvis</i> stars Austin Butler as the King.

Elvis stars Austin Butler as the King. Photo: YouTube

The first trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s lavish long-awaited musical drama Elvis has dropped.

The big-screen biopic, which was filmed on the Gold Coast, stars Austin Butler (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) as the King and an unrecognisable Tom Hanks as his manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

The Warner Bros drama is one of the most hotly anticipated releases of 2022, and has been in eight years in the making. It was put on hold in 2014, before Luhrmann got involved in 2018.

Then it was delayed again as the pandemic hit.

That included Hanks and wife Rita Wilson spending days in hospital on the Gold Coast as the first Hollywood celebrities to test positive to COVID in early 2020. Production was shut down for six months after the virus first hit Australia.

Elvis explores the late crooner’s life in three sections. At a virtual press conference last week, ahead of the trailer’s release on Friday (Australian time), Luhrmann called Presley’s story a “great canvas to explore America”.

The film covers 20 years of the King’s life, focusing on his emergence as a musical star up until he becomes renowned as the King of Rock’n’Roll. It will also feature Priscilla Presley, portrayed by Olivia DeJonge.

Presley died in 1977, aged just 42.

“That 42 years is three great lives put into a short period of time, and what’s extraordinary about it is that that life is that its culturally at the centre of the ’50s and socially the ’60s and actually the ’70s, and it’s a great canvas on which to explore America. So that’s what drew me in,” Luhrmann said.

“The No.1 thing about Elvis’ journey is that black music and culture isn’t a side note or a footnote or a bit – it’s absolutely the canvas on which the story is writ. Meaning, if you take that out of the Elvis Presley story, there’s no story! He grew up in the community.”

In the trailer released on Friday, Hanks’ Parker kicks off by stating: “There are some who’d make me out to be the villain of this here story.”

But later, it shows how Parker immediately sees the young Elvis’ potential after the singer drove audiences, and young female fans, wild.

“The Colonel goes, I have no ear for music, but I can see what he’s doing to that audience,” Luhrmann said.

After being cast as the King three years ago, Butler had voice training six days a week for a year to ensure he got the sound just right.

“That’s what got the fire burning inside of me,” he said.

“Ultimately it’s the life that’s important. You can impersonate somebody. But it’s to find the life within, to find the heart.”

But the 30-year-old was initially daunted by the role

“When I first started, it really felt like when you’re a kid and you put on your father’s suit, and the sleeves are much too long and the shoes are boats on your feet,” he said.

“Elvis is such an icon and he’s held up to a superhuman status. To find the human within that icon, that was the real joy.”

Elvis opens in Australian cinemas on June 23.

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