Elvis is in the building. The first trailer for the Elvis biopic has landed, and star Austin Butler really is singing in his role as America’s first (and arguably most popular) rock star.
After almost a decade in development, Elvis was originally scheduled for an October 1, 2021, premiere, but the film was pushed back after suffering numerous pandemic delays. Warner Bros. next aspired for a November 2, 2021 debut, but that was pushed back to June 2, 2022. Now, after all those years of delays, setbacks, speculation, and conjecture, the Elvis movie is officially almost here with an expected June 24 release. For music lovers, the wait has been agonizing, but the new clip fulfills immense potential and the online buzz for the biopic is sizzling.
“There are some who would make me out to be the villain of this here story,” Tom Hanks says in his depiction of Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’ manager and promoter. “Are you born with a destiny? Or does it just come, knocking at your door?”
Hanks works not only because he is a superb actor, but because his performance uplifts his fellow cast. So it appears with Parker, who Hanks uses to elevate Austin Butler’s incredible depiction of the King. There is an instant tense and electric connection between the Colonel and Butler’s Elvis Presley. In real life, Parker took the immense raw rock star talent and was able to package it to capture the world’s attention. Parker as a promoter, however, also used this position to control not only Presley’s career, but his singular life.
And what a life it was. To modern audiences, Elvis can appear like a prepackaged representation of post-WWII American culture, appearing on neon clock at diners, as cheesy Halloween costumes, and in various other caricatures. To 1950s audiences, however, he was either a punk hero or a representation of all the sin in the world, wrapped in one jittering, too sexually charged package.
“He’s wildly, like, provocative. I mean, if you read what’s written about Elvis in the early ’50s, you know, he really did get that RCA dog and roll around on the ground. There really were riots,” director Baz Luhrmann said during an online news conference that accompanied the film’s trailer reveal.
Luhrmann, who also helmed rock star contemporary takes on Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge, and The Great Gatsby, explained that he wanted to show the man behind the music and the culture that Elvis spawned.
At the center of this is Butler, who presents an incredible depiction of the late Presley’s life in three sections: His incredible crash landing into American culture, his 1968 comeback after 10 years in Hollywood, and Elvis’ last years as a Vegas icon who would too soon fall victim to prescription drugs and alcohol.
Nailing these portrayals was no small task and no easy task. The pandemic might have helped Butler as he only ate, drank, and slept as Presley for years, tediously mimicking Presley’s movements, voice, and mannerisms.
“I didn’t look at or read or hear anything that didn’t have to do with Elvis for a long time,” Butler said in the press conference.
The actor was 27 when he started preparing for the role. He is 30 now. And as the preview shows, the man nails Presley, from youthful aspirant to the King of Rock n’ Roll.
“Ultimately, the life is what was most important. You can emulate somebody, but to find the humanity within, the passion … ultimately I had to release myself from the restraints of that and try to live the life as truthfully as possible,” Butler said.
From the moment he belts out his first “Weeeeeelllll…” to screaming female fans to his last flashes as the jumpsuited performer who does not want to be forgotten, Butler’s first few released moments bring a stunning depiction of Presley to the silver screen.
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