Two weeks ago, We Live Entertainment was invited to an early look at the trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. After seeing the trailer, we were also invited to participate in an intimate conversation with Luhrmann and Austin Butler, who plays Elvis in the film. Here are few of the key takeaways that I took away from the conversation:
Baz refers to himself as the ultimate outsider when tackling his subjects in his films. He loves living these films.
Austin was cast as Elvis when he was 27. He is now 30.
Baz spoke about how the early Elvis recordings from the early 60s and before couldn’t be used in the film because they were recorded in mono. The solution for this was to have Austin sing all the songs released prior to the 60s and then the music after the 60s was blended together using original Elvis tracks and Austin’s vocal.
Austin loved exploring the life of Elvis and finding the human inside the icon.
Baz wanted to show the person that people didn’t really know. He wanted to hone in on the strange and unusual aspects of Elvis.
For Austin singing in this film was quite the challenge. Austin wanted to get his voice to sound identical to Elvis. It was very fearful doing this but that also served as the inspiration. He did voice coaching almost an entire year before filming the movie. He didn’t want his performance to be an impression because that has been done so many times before instead he wanted to become Elvis but wanted to understand his life and how he lived.
Baz was in Graceland for 18 months and worked in the recording studio that Elvis worked in. He learned a lot about Elvis while working in this space.
Austin really studied the footage of Elvis. He explored Elvis because he was even cast in the role. He studied his movements and how he moved differently over the years. When performing he didn’t want to mimic but ask why he moved that way.
Baz talks about how the film explores Elvis connection to the black culture and showcases the major role it played in his career. He mentioned that the community shaped him and there would be no Elvis Presley without the black community. He added that gospel music was such a huge part of his career and the film plays tribute to that.
Austin worked with Polly Bennett, the same movement director and choreographer, who worked with Rami Malek on Bohemian Rhapsody.