‘Elvis’ Movie: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Elvis Presley Biopic

Elvis Movie

Director Baz Luhrmann wowed audiences in 2022 with Elvis, the biopic of the “King of Rock and Roll” himself. The Elvis movie premiered on June 22, 2022, at the Cannes Film Festival, receiving a 12-minute standing ovation. Luhrmann’s direction and Austin Butler’s performance in the biopic were widely praised.

The film opened in cinemas on June 24, 2022. And on its first weekend, Elvis beat Top Gun: Maverick at the box office. The film went on to score 73% on the Tomatometer and a 94% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes, proving that audiences were fans!

Curious what you might not know about the movie? Here are some fun facts that fans might not know about the film.

Elvis Movie
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

Austin Butler Did His Own Singing

Elvis is considered one of the greatest singers of the 20th century. In Elvis, Austin Butler sought to do the icon justice by learning how to sing his songs. This was despite the mounting pressure that came with portraying someone so iconic.

Luhrmann confirmed to Entertainment Tonight that Butler himself sang as “young Elvis” in the movie. The songs Butler sang were also recorded on the original equipment used by The King under RCA Records. Butler also recorded his own version of “Trouble” from Elvis’ ’68 Comeback Special for the film’s soundtrack.

Over the course of the movie, Luhrmann blended Butler’s voice with the original track to show how the late singer’s voice changed over the years. Luhrmann also cast real musicians to keep the setting as authentic as possible. Four-time Grammy winner Gary Clark, Jr. played blues singer Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, while four-time Grammy nominee Yola played Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Butler also sought the advice from Rami Malek, who portrayed Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. The role won Malek the Oscar for Best Actor. Malek told Butler that even with the nervousness that comes with performing in front of hundreds of extras, “Those days will probably end up being your favorite days.”

Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

Austin Butler’s Audition

Several actors auditioned for the role of the titular icon, but Austin Butler would ultimately get the part. All because Luhrmann found Butler’s audition tape, showing the actor in a bathrobe and sitting at a black piano. Butler sang a rendition of “Unchained Melody” – which doesn’t appear in the film. The actor’s rendition impressed Luhrmann, who later invited him for a personal meeting.

According to Luhrmann, it didn’t feel rehearsed as it felt real. Butler revealed having poured his own emotions into the audition. He had also learned that Elvis lost his mom when he was 23, the same age Butler was when his mother died.

“I ended up filming this tape that came out of a nightmare that my mom was dying again. It was an emotion of such deep pain. It kind of stripped away the icon of him or the caricature of him, and it just made him so human,” Butler told Deadline.

Butler would take preparing for the role further as he obsessed over Elvis for two years. Also speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Butler shared how he “started reading and watching everything” that he could about Elvis, from looking into The King’s career to his marriage to Priscilla Presley, and his friendships. Butler built a foundation from all the research, which brought out a natural, authentic presence on screen.

Even after getting the role, Butler also took karate lessons and learned how to swing and tap dance. Butler also worked with a dialect coach to perfect Elvis’ Southern drawl, which he possibly unintentionally slipped back into even after the movie wrapped.

Austin Butler and Olivia DeJonge
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

Olivia DeJonge’s Preparation to Play Priscilla Presley

Actress Olivia DeJonge played Elvis’ young wife, Priscilla Presley, in the movie. Priscilla met Elvis when she was 14 and he was 24. DeJonge shared that she watched archive footage to prepare for the role. The actress even read Priscilla’s book, Elvis and Me.

DeJonge told Variety how the home movies and archive footage from the Graceland estate helped prepare her for the role. She hadn’t met Priscilla herself until after the movie wrapped and said she was able to understand the love Priscilla had for him.

Austin Butler also sought Priscilla’s blessing as the movie was going to be made. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Butler knew he needed to spend time with Priscilla. They visited Graceland together and she shared personal details of her relationship with the late singer, ultimately giving Butler her blessing.

Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

Elvis and His Support for Black Artists and Gospel Music

Elvis portrayed the singer’s love and appreciation for African-American artists. But it bears more emphasis on how often The King praised and highlighted their work. Elvis is also known for his love of Gospel music, having released six Gospel records. The three Grammys Elvis won during his career were all for Gospel records.

This was what set Elvis apart from white artists who were notorious for stealing Black records to claim as their own. Legendary singers like Little Richard and James Brown have often praised Elvis, and B.B. King often defended him.

Elvis was also quoted as saying, “A lot of people seem to think I started this business. But rock’n’roll was here a long time before I came along. Let’s face it: I can’t sing like Fats Domino can. I know that.”

The styles in Elvis’ music brought in a white audience to Black talents. Before Elvis rose to fame, Black music was only played on Black stations, and blues and soul music was looked down on. Eventually, these genres would come to play a role in defining modern music.

His daughter Lisa Marie Presley told Yahoo News that it was important to stress how much her father was raised by “both Gospel and R’n’B.”

Elvis Movie
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

Frank Sinatra Was A Critic of Elvis’ Music

Another fact that wasn’t included in Elvis was the criticism the singer received from Frank Sinatra. Sinatra called his style of music “phony and false” and that it was bringing out “universally negative and destructive directions in young people.” Elvis was gracious in response to Sinatra’s criticisms.

“I admire the man…He has a right to say what he wants to say. He is a great success and a fine actor, but I think he shouldn’t have said it. This is a trend, just the same as he faced when he started years ago. I consider it the greatest in music,” said Elvis.

Over time, Sinatra’s opinions softened. Following Elvis’ discharge from the army, he was invited to appear on The Frank Sinatra Timex Show: Welcome Home Elvis. They would later become good friends.


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