Over the years, many familiar faces have stepped into the "Blue Suede Shoes" of Elvis Presley on screen, from Kurt Russell in John Carpenter's 1979 Elvis mini-series to Michael Shannon in 2016's Elvis & Nixon. Now Baz Luhrmann has selected up and coming actor Austin Butler to star in his biopic charting the rock icon's journey from rags to riches.
You may recognize Butler from his recent turn in Jim Jarmusch's The Dead Don't Die, and you'll be seeing him again this summer as Tex Watson in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The striking young actor was one of many hopefuls up for the role alongside Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, and Harry Styles.
According to Deadline, Luhrmann had this to say about the difficult casting process:
“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,” Luhrmann said in a statement to Deadline. “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.”
While the film is still untitled, Luhrmann will once again work with long-time collaborator and costume designer Catherine Martin to bring to life what we can only assume will be a rich and unique take on Elvis Presley's life and career. With Tom Hanks set to co-star as Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, this is shaping up to be one to watch out for.
The film begins shooting early next year in Queensland, Australia. We'll keep you posted as the news rolls in. Meanwhile, hit the comments and let us know your thoughts on this casting news, or to share your favorite portrayals of the King on screen.