Elvis Biopic Austin Butler

Baz Luhrmann has found his Elvis. Austin Butler will play the King of Rock and Roll in Luhrmann’s upcoming, untitled film chronicling the troubled relationship between Elvis Presley and his manager Colonel Tom Parker. Tom Hanks is set to play Parker. Several young actors were competing for the role of Elvis, but the relatively unknown Butler ultimately won out.

Deadline broke the news that Austin Butler has landed the role of Elvis in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming biopic. The movie will be “seen through the prism of his complex relationship over two decades with manager Colonel Tom Parker” and will “trace Presley’s elevation to a level of stardom and celebrity matched only by The Beatles, set against an evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America.”

In addition to Butler, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller and Harry Styles all reportedly screen tested for the role. Butler ended up winning Luhrmann over. Butler was seen earlier this year in The Dead Don’t Die, and has a role in this month’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, so his star is clearly on the rise.

“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. “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.”

Musician biopics continue to generate buzz. Last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody got awards season love and box office glory, even though most critics thought it was kind of terrible. This year’s Elton John-centric fantasy musical Rocketman fared a bit better from critics. There have been plenty of Elvis biopics already, but Luhrmann’s approach, which appears to be focusing on both Elvis and his manager Tom Parker, sounds unique enough that it might stand out from the usual biopic riffraff. Luhrmann co-wrote the script for the film with Craig Pearce, his writer on Moulin Rogue and The Great Gatsby. Filming is set to start early next year.

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