To do it, he’s assembled a pretty impressive cast of actors and real-life musicians to bring the story to life. But who are they, and what are they bringing to the table?
Who is he playing? The big cheese himself, Elvis Presley
A life in short: Elvis barely needs introducing, but we’ll do it anyway. Born in 1935 to a poor, working-class family, he shot to stardom in his twenties, becoming the defining sound of the Fifties and releasing hit after hit, including Jailhouse Rock, Suspicious Minds and Hound Dog. He died in 1977 at the age of only 42 after his partying excesses caught up with him and is still a household name today.
Where have you seen him before? Butler reportedly blew away Luhrmann during the audition process - the director said that Butler was “carrying something of Elvis with him” when they first met. “He had a hint of the swagger, a touch of the sound.”
Before that, he made his name as a regular on Disney, CW and Nickelodeon shows, usually playing the role of a boyfriend, but branched out by appearing opposite Denzel Washington in a stage performance of The Iceman Cometh in 2018 and later appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood.
From the looks of the trailer, he already has Elvis’s signature dance moves down pat, so we’re waiting to see if he can rock like the King.
Who is he playing? Elvis’s domineering manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
A life in short: Colonel Tom remains a controversial figure in Elvis’s life. Billing himself as a musical entrepreneur, he discovered and signed Presley in 1955 before securing him his first-ever recording contract. However, his pugilistic attitude and love of money (half of Elvis’s income went to Parker, which was unprecedented for a manager at the time) earned him a reputation as a money grubber and bully. Their relationship forms the heart of the new film.
Where have you seen him before? I mean, take your pick. The ever-lovable Hanks has been a mainstay on our screens for decades, starring in films like Forrest Gump, Sleepless in Seattle and Woody in the Toy Story franchise.
Who is she playing? Elvis’s love interest and eventual wife, Priscilla Presley.
A life in short: Priscilla met Elvis while he was doing military service in Germany. At the time, she was only 14 and he was 24, but she married him eight years later at the age of 21. The couple had one child, Lisa Marie, but eventually the marriage became unhappy and the pair divorced in 1972.
Where have you seen her before? Australian actress DeJonge made her feature film debut in The Sisterhood of Night in 2014; since then, she’s been landing roles in shows like Josie and Jack and The Visit – for which she was nominated for a Saturn Award.
Who is he playing? Steve Binder
A life in short: American producer and director Binder found fame in his twenties for creating music shows that were ethnically and musically diverse. Binder was also responsible for staging Elvis’s comeback on television in 1968 and revamping his image, before falling foul of Colonel Tom Parker.
Where have you seen him before? Montgomery’s breakthrough role was arguably his appearance as antagonist Billy Hargrove in the third season of Stranger Things. Unhinged and violent, he ultimately met his end fairly sharpish, but with the fourth season about to hit Netflix, we may yet see his return…
Who is he playing? Jimmie Rodgers
A life in short: An American singer and actor, Rodgers achieved mainstream popularity in the 50s and 60s with his blues and country music; his single It’s Over was later recorded and sung by Presley as part of his comeback concert Aloha in 1972.
Where have you seen him before? In one of this year’s hottest films: Jane Campion’s cowboy romance The Year of the Dog, starring opposite Benedict Cumberbatch. The film went onto win an Oscar for Best Director, and helped catapult Smit-McPhee’s star into the stratosphere (he picked up a nomination for Bafta’s Rising Star award earlier this year too).
Who is he playing? Hank Snow
A life in short: A Canadian country music singer, Snow took the young Presley under his wing at the start of his career and hired him as an opening act for his show. Snow was ultimately responsible for introducing Presley to Tom Parker – and thus sparking a partnership for the ages.
Where have you seen him before? Australian actor Wenham is perhaps best known for his turn as Faramir in Peter Jackson’s epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Apart from that, he’s appeared in Van Helsing, 300 and Marvel’s Iron Fist.
Who is he playing? Jerry Schilling
A life in short: A talent manager by trade, Schilling is most famous for his association with Elvis, which started in 1954. Over the course of his life, the two became close friends and Schilling acted as a confidant for the troubled singer. Over the course of his career, he also went onto represent Elvis’s daughter Lisa Marie Presley.
Where have you seen him before? Aussie actor Bracey made his TV debut in iconic soap opera Home & Away in 1988, but has gone onto star in several Hollywood blockbusters, including G.I. Joe, Holidate and the Point Break remake.
Kelvin Harrison Jr.
Who is he playing? B.B. King
A life in short: American artist B.B. King is one of the most defining blues musicians in history, helping to define the genre and developing one of the world’s most identifiable guitar-playing styles in his music. He also formed a friendship with Elvis when the pair were at the start of their careers, with Elvis borrowing from black music to launch his own career.
Where have you seen him before? Another actor whose star is on the rise, Harrison has appeared in recent musical Cyrano opposite Peter Dinklage, as well as Godfather of Harlem and Waves. “With Baz, everything is so heightened,” he told the Standard when discussing his role in Elvis earlier this year. “When I got the job I was like… ‘alright, how do I play B.B King? And then I [thought], ‘no Kelvin, you’re playing B.B. King in a Baz Luhrmann film and that’s its own thing.”
Elvis will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, May 17-28. It will be released in the UK on June 22