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Priscilla Presley Reacts to Austin Butler’s Performance as Elvis in Baz Luhrmann Biopic: He ‘Had Big Shoes to Fill’

Priscilla Presley Reacts to Austin Butler’s Performance in ‘Elvis’ Biopic
Priscilla Presley and Austin Butler. Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock; Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

All shook up. Priscilla Presley revealed that she got to see a private screening of Baz Luhrmann‘s upcoming Elvis Presley biopic and shared her honest thoughts on star Austin Butler.

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“For those curious about the new film ELVIS … the director, provided a private screening for me and [Elvis’ friend] Jerry Schilling at Warner studios recently. This story is about Elvis and [manager] Colonel Parker’s relationship. It is a true story told brilliantly and creatively that only Baz, in his unique artistic way, could have delivered,” the Dallas alum, 76, wrote via Facebook on Friday, April 29. “Austin Butler, who played Elvis is outstanding.”

She continued: “Halfway through the film Jerry and I looked at each other and said WOW!!! Bravo to him … he knew he had big shoes to fill. He was extremely nervous playing this part. I can only imagine.”

Priscilla also praised Tom Hanks, who plays Elvis’ longtime manager Colonel Tom Parker, in the film. “What a character he was. There [were] two sides to Colonel, Jerry and I witnessed both,” she wrote.

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The Naked Gun actress concluded her post by noting that while the story “does not have a happy ending,” Elvis offers fans a new look at the iconic musician and his journey to stardom.

Butler, 30, has previously spoken about his preparation for Elvis and the pressures of playing the King of Rock and Roll on the big screen. “When I began the process, I set out to get my voice to be identical. That instills fear. So that got the fire burning. For a year before we started shooting, I was doing voice coaching,” the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood star told The Hollywood Reporter in February. The film features Butler singing as a young Elvis and a combination of the actor’s voice and old tapes of the “Blue Suede Shoes” singer for scenes that take place later in his life.

The Carrie Diaries alum continued: “I watched as much as I could, over and over. I feel such a responsibility to Elvis and to Priscilla and [daughter] Lisa Marie, and all the people around the world who love him so much.”

In an interview with Vogue last month, Butler revealed that he felt destined to take on the role, recalling a drive through Los Angeles with his ex, Vanessa Hudgens. “I was actually driving up through Griffith Park and Elvis’s ‘Blue Christmas’ came on. I was singing along with it when my friend had kind of an epiphany: ‘You need to play Elvis,'” he said, confirming that the friend in question was the High School Musical star, 33.

The connection he felt towards the “Hound Dog” singer was so strong that Butler even decided to stay in Australia when production was shut down in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If I fly back [to the States] I’m going to lose my momentum. I’m going to be balancing real life and prep. Unless I immerse as much as I possibly can, I’m going to feel like a fraud,” he explained to Vogue about preparing for the film, which included studying a wall filled with photos and notes about Elvis’ life. “I made the entire place look like a detective film, where there’s images of everything connected with the strings and stuff.”

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All of his hard work clearly paid off. “What I heard vocally, and more importantly, what I saw emotionally, was something that simply couldn’t be ignored,” Luhrmann, 59, told the outlet of Butler’s performance. “From the moment I met Austin, he was carrying something of Elvis with him. He had a hint of the swagger, a touch of the sound.”

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