Everything we know about the Baz Luhrmann Elvis biopic

The next exuberant musical period drama from the iconic director now has a trailer and release date!

by Tom George
17 February 2022, 8:17pm

Still from Elvis.

It’s been almost a decade since the last opulent theatrical period drama from Baz Luhrmann, the director who gave us cult classics like Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Moulin Rouge! (2001). Over the last eight years and after the incredible success of The Great Gatsby (2013), Baz has been working on his next big movie spectacle: a musical biopic on the life and career of Elvis Presley. 

Unfortunately, the pandemic caused major delays to production (especially when one of the movie’s biggest stars, Tom Hanks, tested positive for Covid-19 in 2020) but it looks like the big budget film is now finally ready, with a release date announced and a trailer dropping today! Here’s everything we know about Elvis (2022). 

What part of Elvis’ life will the movie cover?

Much of the movie’s exact plot and timeline has been kept under wraps. What we do know is that it will follow roughly 20 years of Elvis’ life and will focus on his friendship with his manager Tom Parker. With that in mind, we can assume the film will date from the mid-50s when Elvis was first signed, up until his death in the late 70s. Having said that, in an interview with Australian Financial Review, Baz has said he would also like to explore the way in which Elvis grew up living in one of a few designated ‘white houses’ in Black neighbourhoods and how that impacted his music. “Something new comes about, a fusion between country and African-American music, gospel and country-and-western music,” he said. It seems then the movie will delve into his childhood and early musical muses.

Additionally, Baz said that the film isn’t an attempt at “ionising” the legendary rockstar. “I just saw him as the best canvas on which to explore America in the modern age.”

Who has been cast as Elvis and Priscilla Presley?

While the role of the titular king of rock ‘n’ roll music was tied to names such as Harry Styles and Ansel Elgort, the part eventually went to Austin Butler. You might recognise him from his many appearances in Disney Channel and Nickelodeon shows in the 00s such as Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverley Place and Zoey 101. More recently he’s been in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) and Sex and The City prequel series The Carrie Diaries

Playing his ever stylish lover Priscilla Presley is Olivia DeJonge, whose previous acting credits include playing one of the kids in that creepy grandparent horror The Visit (2015) and Christmas slasher Better Watch Out (2016). 

Who else is in the cast?

Presumably playing the eyes which we see Elvis through during the movie is Tom Hanks as the artist’s bestie and manager Tom Parker. There are also a host of names playing Elvis’ contemporaries in the blues and gospel worlds such as Grammy-nominated artist Yola as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Waves (2019) actor Kelvin Harisson Jr. as B.B. King, history-making model Alton Mason as Little Richard and Oscar-nominated The Power of the Dog (2022) actor Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jimmie Rodgers. Others making up this big ensemble biopic include Helen Thomas and Richard Roxburgh as Elvis’ parents alongside Luke Bracey, Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things), Kate Mulvany, Xavier Samuel (the Twilight series), David Wenham and Natasha Basset in supporting roles. 

Who is behind the camera of Elvis?

Helping Baz to pen the script are his frequent collaborators, co-writers Craig Pearce and Sam Bromell as well as Jeremy Doner, known for producing Netflix’s The Killing. He’s also enlisted composer Elliott Wheeler to lead the music for the biopic, best known for producing Lana Del Rey’s haunting ‘Young and Beautiful’ for The Great Gatsby movie — so fingers crossed for some iconic arrangements of classic Elvis songs sung by pop girlies on the soundtrack.  

Is there a trailer?

Earlier this week Baz released a teaser on Twitter that showed Austin with the famed gel-gleaned quiff and flashy bright suits on stage doing Elvis’ signature dance moves while fans scream in adoration as he sings his 1969 number one hit “Suspicious Minds”. Now, the full trailer has been shared which shows the film will delve into the success and global fame the rockstar had, as well as the pains and tragedies within his life.

When will Elvis be released?

Prepare for the musical movie to be the film of the summer when it hits theatres on 24 June 2022 before making its way to HBO Max 45 days later.

Follow i-D on Instagram and TikTok for more on movies.

Baz Luhrmann