After an “extensive search,” filmmaker Baz Luhrmann has found his Elvis Presley: Austin Butler. The rising actor will star in Luhrmann’s much-anticipated new feature film, which charts the seminal singer’s rise, with a special emphasis on his life-changing relationship with his manager Colonel Tom Parker (the already-cast Tom Hanks). Butler reportedly beat out other contenders for the party, including Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, and Harry Styles.
Per the film’s official synopsis, the still-untitled feature “will explore the life and music of Presley, through the prism of his complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker, played in the film by two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks. The story will delve into their complex dynamic spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America.”
“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 an official statement. “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.”
Butler, well known for his television work on series like “Switched at Birth” and “The Carrie Diaries,” recently made his Broadway debut in 2018 opposite Washington in Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh,” directed by George C. Wolfe. He will next be seen opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” coming out later this month.
Luhrmann will direct from the current screenplay written by Luhrmann and Craig Pearce. Luhrmann will also produce, alongside multiple-Oscar winner Catherine Martin (“The Great Gatsby,” “Moulin Rouge!”), who will once again serve as production designer and costume designer on the film. Gail Berman, Patrick McCormick, Schuyler Weiss, and Andrew Mittman will executive produce.
Principal photography on the feature will begin early next year, with filming taking place in Queensland, Australia.