Mike Bedigan, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
Austin Butler says he feels an “incredible responsibility” in playing Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming biopic about the musical icon.
The actor said when starting out in the film’s eponymous role he felt it would be “impossible” to recreate the persona of the world famous rock star and his “superhuman status”.
Elvis tells the life story of Presley through the lens of his complicated relationship with enigmatic manager Colonel Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks.
Hey, it’s time to TCB!⚡️
I’ll have a trailer to share with you all on Thursday…#Elvis #TCB #ElvisMonday pic.twitter.com/NETP7mk1eA
— Baz Luhrmann (@bazluhrmann) February 14, 2022
It is due to be released this summer but gained infamy early in the pandemic when Hanks was diagnosed with coronavirus during the shoot in Australia, becoming one of the first celebrities to go public with a diagnosis.
Butler (30) said he had tried to live Presley’s life “as truthfully as possible” while filming to find the humanity of the character.
“When I began the process of this I set out to get my voice to sound identical to his – that was my goal,” he said.
“If you heard a recording of me and you heard a recording of him you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
“And I held that for a long time and so what that does is it instils fear, so that got the fire burning within me to work and work and work.
“I had to live the life as truthfully as possible.”
Butler, whose previous credits include TV series The Shannara Chronicles and film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, likened the process to putting on a father’s suit as a child, with the sleeves and shoes too large to fit.
“They’re huge shoes to fill,” he said.
“In the beginning I thought ‘this is impossible’. How could I feel anything but I’m less than this superhuman individual?
“As time passed I felt I grew into it more.”
He added: “It’s such an incredible responsibility.
“I feel not only a responsibility to Elvis and his life (but)… his entire family and all the people around the world who love him so dearly.”
Other names appearing in the film include Richard Roxburgh, Helen Thomson, David Wenham and Dacre Montgomery, with Roxburgh, who worked with Luhrmann on 2001’s Moulin Rouge!, playing Presley’s father, Vernon, while Thomson has been cast as the singer’s mother, Gladys.
Presley, dubbed the King of Rock and Roll, died aged 42 in 1977 following one of the most influential careers in popular music.