The King Returns to the Big Screen

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll Elvis Presley is set to return to the big screen in a big budget adaptation by one of Hollywood’s most prolific filmmakers 


The legend of The King Elvis Presley grows with each passing season. His meteoric rise and disastrous fall, culminating with his shocking and untimely death in the summer of 1977 are the stuff Hollywood movies are made of. Fitting, that one of the biggest directors in the game is set to immortalize the icon yet again on the big screen. 

Riding the wave of recent big-budget music biopics including 2019 Oscar winner Bohemian Rhapsody and this summer’s musical hit Rocketman, award-winning Australian director Baz Luhrmann is set to resurrect The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll for Warner Brothers. Young Austin Butler will shake, rattle, and roll his way onto the screen as he takes on the role of the iconic Elvis Presley, while the decorated Tom Hanks will suit up as his (in)famous manager Colonel Tom Parker. The film will chronicle the rise to stardom and the turbulent relationship between Presley and Parker. 

“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 a statement on the casting of Butler. 

“Throughout the casting process, it was an honour 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’s big break 

Butler, predominantly known for his roles on television including The Carrie Diaries, Switched at Birth and Zoey 101, has had a massive 2019 thus far, appearing in the recently released Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and the all-star cast zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die. 

The young American actor beat out a trio of high-profile names in the extensive casting process, earning the role over the likes of Miles Teller (Whiplash, Top Gun: Maverick), Ansel Elgort (The Fault In Our Stars, Baby Driver) and Harry Styles (Dunkirk). 

In casting the role of the marketing genius yet conniving Col. Tom Parker, brass behind the project turned to one of the finest actors of the modern era in Tom Hanks. Having appeared in films grossing over $9.6 billion worldwide, Hanks has been five times nominated for an Academy Award for acting, winning in back to back years in 1993 and 1994 for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. 

His resumé is sparkling, with major roles in Saving Private Ryan, Sleepless in Seattle, Cast Away, Toy Story, Captain Phillips, Sully and The Green Mile. He received a Kennedy Center Honour in 2014 and a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 from then President Barack Obama. 

Luhrmann, who co-wrote the screenplay alongside Craig Pearce, steps behind the director’s chair for the first time since 2013’s The Great Gatsby. It will only be the sixth feature film for the acclaimed Aussie filmmaker, who is known for his Red Curtain trilogy (Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, and the Oscar winning Moulin Rouge!), the 2008 epic Australia and 2013’s adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic, which saw him re-team with Leonardo DiCaprio. 

While more casting details will surely appear in the coming months, the film is set to begin shooting in the early stages of 2020, according to Variety. And while Butler will occupy the blue suede shoes of The King, it will hardly be the first time fans will have had the chance to see Presley, in one form or another, on the big screen. 

Larger than life 

The larger than life entertainer, Presley made his feature film debut in Love Me Tender in 1956, building a resumé that had over 30 film credits including Jailhouse Rock, King Creole, Blue Hawaii, Viva Las Vegas and Change of Habit. 

Presley tragically passed away on August 16, 1977, with the official cause of death being labelled cardiac arrest, though his declining health and drug habits have been well documented in the years that followed. 

How will Butler, the upstart actor with limitless potential, tackle one of the greatest entertainers of all time? Elvis buffs and film fans will surely be eagerly awaiting the Return of the King!

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