Baz Luhrmann finally has his Elvis. After a long casting process and big names being rumored for the top role, the director’s biopic of one of the 20th century’s most iconic singers has its star. Austin Butler, who you may recognize from shows like The Shannara Chronicles and The Carrie Diaries, won the part over bigger names like Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Miles Teller, and even Harry Styles, all of whom reportedly tested for the role last month.
In a statement, Luhrmann explained his choice (via The Hollywood Reporter):
‘I knew I couldn’t make this film if the casting wasn’t absolutely right, and we searched thoroughly for an actor with the ability to evoke the singular natural movement and vocal qualities of this peerless star, but also the inner vulnerability of the artist. Throughout the casting process, it was an honor for me to encounter such a vast array of talent. I had heard about Austin Butler from his stand-out role opposite Denzel Washington in The Iceman Cometh on Broadway, and through a journey of extensive screen testing and music and performance workshops, I knew unequivocally that I had found someone who could embody the spirit of one of the world’s most iconic musical figures.’
So, big praise right there. Butler is mostly known for handsome teen roles and family-friendly shows like Life Unexpected and Switched at Birth, but he has built up a critical reputation for himself in recent years, in large part thanks to celebrated work on Broadway in The Iceman Cometh. He will soon appear in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as Tex Watson, one of the Manson family murderers.
His co-star will be none other than Tom Hanks, who will take on the role of Col. Tom Parker. The movie will dive into their 20-year professional relationship and follow Presley’s rise to fame. It’s unknown if the Presley estate will be involved in this movie, although they’ll have to at least give their approval should Luhrmann want to use any of the music. If they do come on board, will they want to clean up Elvis’s history a little, as so many of these musical biopics love to do? If this movie’s a success, it’ll sell a hell of a lot of records.
I can’t personally say I’m psyched for an Elvis biopic, although I do love Luhrmann’s work and he feels like a good fit for such a story. I’d rather see them go full I’m Not There with this story and have multiple actors playing the various facets of Elvis’s life and career. Whatever the case, expect lots of hip-shaking. Thrust that pelvis now!
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