Following the release of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, Priscilla Presley was all praise for Austin Butler, the up-and-coming actor who portrayed her late husband. Speaking with Extra, she commented on Butler’s dedication to getting his interpretation of the complex rockstar as close to the truth, as possible, saying,
“After I saw the movie it was very emotional, my daughter felt the same way. Only because he got Elvis to a T, I mean to a T. It is unbelievable what this kid did, Austin Butler. He spent two years studying about Elvis, so that was like a shock to watch.”
So, it’s surprising that Presley was initially “cynical” of Butler’s ability to fit in her husband’s blue suede shoes; a sentiment that Luhrmann expressed to Entertainment Tonight.
“[Priscilla] was quite cynical about how this young kid could, in fact, manifest her husband. I remember Priscilla said, ‘I know I was hard on you,’ she wrote me an email… She said, ‘Every wink, every move, if my husband was here he would say, ‘Hot damn, you are me!””
Moreover, Presley went onto complement the way Butler got to the essence of Elvis Presley beyond the choreographed nature of the star and his image, to the man who was underneath the sequenced suits. “She said, ‘How did he know about Elvis’ rage, his stillness, his inner life, his complex inner life?'” Luhrmann went on, to ET. “Because that’s not out there. That’s not in a biography.”
The performance has earned Butler a Golden Globe award and Academy Award nomination, both for Best Actor. While these honors are both firsts for his career, it’s safe to say that Butler was most proud of the reaction his performance garnered from the Presley family.
“It’s so moving to get to look into Priscilla’s eyes and see what this movie has meant to her.”