The Elvis Presley movie biopic was all ready to start shooting in March. However, the Australian set was closed down during rehearsals when Colonel Tom Parker star Tom Hanks was diagnosed with coronavirus. Now director Baz Luhrmann has revealed what happened that day on set, teasing a Las Vegas residency scene, while praising Elvis star Austin Butler.
Since the incident, Baz has been spending lockdown at his home in native Australia, where he’s making plans for the Elvis movie’s future in a post-pandemic world.
Speaking with Deadline, the 57-year-old said: “So I’m getting ready to begin shooting on a Monday.
“I was four days out from shooting…I had built the Vegas showroom, the International which became the Hilton, and you know that famous scene where Elvis is playing that showroom?
“Tom guides in Austin [Butler] as Elvis, and it’s a scene where basically hundreds of girls are kissing Elvis, in a ‘70s show.”
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He added: “We were rehearsing camera positioning, everything, and I’d done all the tests – Austin, Tom, and the whole cast was on fire. We were that close.”
Praising Elvis star Butler, Baz said: “During the testing process, his commitment, his transformative abilities from the young Elvis to beyond, he had been playing so very well.
“He was terrific. There was such great energy and excitement in the cast and company, about the show we were about to shoot.”
On the moment the director knew something was up, he said: “All of a sudden I see my producer, Patrick McCormick on the set, and he had the same look in his eyes like he had a week earlier.”
Baz continued: “And I thought, well this can’t be good.
“You and the world knows what happened next. We immediately shut down that day.”
Since then the filmmaker has been working on “very lateral and interesting plans.”
As it stands, he hopes to get shooting the Elvis movie near the end of the year when it’s safe to shoot.
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But just how will the Elvis movie be able to shoot scenes with crowds like in the Las Vegas showroom set?
After all, The King was a huge star who performed in front of vast audiences over his career.
Baz teased: “What’s not going to happen is two months go by and you flip a switch and go back to shooting like we did before.
“We as filmmakers create the illusion of crowd activity.”
According to Warner Bros, the movie will follow Elvis’s life over 20 years from the fifties to the seventies.
This will include “Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and the loss of innocence in America.”
And knowing Baz’s stylistic style of directing, hopefully, the film will be quite a colourful musical.
The untitled Elvis movie will hit UK cinemas on November 5, 2021.
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