The set of Elvis was quite the dance party. Cinematographer Mandy Walker revealed that filming Austin Butler’s dance scenes as Elvis Presley required just as much dancing behind the camera.
“One of my biggest challenges on this movie was to dance with the camera with Elvis,” the 60-year-old director of photography exclusively told Us Weekly on the 2023 Oscars red carpet at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, March 12. “And so from his very first workshop with Baz [Luhrmann], I was there with a camera looking at angles on him, what looked most like Elvis, but also, just to be able to move with him and we both feel comfortable together. So, there was a choreography between when I had five cameras on stage with him and he felt comfortable doing his moves that we were there with him and we were moving in concert.”
Not only was she dancing, but so was the rest of her crew. “Oh my God, my guys — some of my team — were standing off to the side operating, wiggling their bottoms,” Walker hilariously added. “I loved it.”
Both Walker and Butler — whom she called “a generous collaborator” and “a kind person” — were both up for Best Cinematography and Best Actor in a Leading Role at the awards ceremony, respectively. Directed by Luhrmann, 60, the biopic scored a total of eight Oscar nominations but did receive any wins.
If Walker had won, she would have made history as the first woman to win in the Best Cinematographer category. She told Us that she was both “prepared to win [and] prepared to lose,” but that inspiring other women in her field was what she was the most excited about.
“It would just be so encouraging to other women who have wanted to pursue my career and be passionate about it and know that, that there is possibilities,” she shared. “And also, there’s still only seven percent of cinematographers are women. So I want to encourage more women to get into it.”
While she continues to serve as an inspiration to women in the entertainment industry, Walker stated that she is often inspired by Luhrmann. “The best collaboration I’ve ever had is with Baz Luhrmann because he’s a visionary and a great collaborator,” the Oscar nominee said on the red carpet. “To work on a team with him is very inspiring and rewarding.”
She also dished some behind-the-scenes facts about the film, including that the entire movie was filmed in her and Luhrmann’s native country, Australia. “We also shot on stage. And we shot Graceland there and Beale Street, we created it, and recreated all the concert sequences in a stage,” she revealed to Us. “So, we never went to any theaters. We made them from scratch.”
When asked if there’s anything fans would be surprised to learn about leading man Butler, 31 — who lost out on the Best Actor Oscar to The Whale star Brendan Fraser — Walker said what you see is what you get.
“He’s just a very kind, generous person and he works so hard and I just feel like he was the perfect choice for this,” she said of The Carrie Diaries alum, before noting that she was rooting for him to win that night.
Elvis wasn’t the only film to not receive any Oscars wins, as fellow Best Picture nominees Tár and The Banshees of Inisherin also ended the night empty-handed.
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With reporting by Hannah Kahn
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