LOS ANGELES - There they were, three generations of Presley women, placing their hands in the cement at The TCL Theatre in Hollywood on a steamy Tuesday morning. Elvis’ ex-wife, Priscilla, his daughter, Lisa Marie and granddaughter Riley Keough all showed up to praise the new film "Elvis."
The biopic "Elvis" is the latest film by acclaimed director Baz Luhrman. It stars actor Austin Butler as Elvis and Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker. But it’s Butler who is gaining early attention for his riveting performance as the complex King. I had the opportunity to spend some time with Butler, who was born in Anaheim, on the red carpet. He was self-possessed and modest about his performance. I asked him if he was having a "pinch me" moment. He smiled and said he’d "had many."
Luhrman spoke enthusiastically about the film and his mission for audiences to see Elvis as he’d never been seen before. The film underscores Elvis’ close ties with the African-American community. The director allowed as to how it’s tougher to tell a story about an icon because people feel they already know the subject. But his Elvis starts from the rocker's earliest years, all the way to his breathtaking rise to international stardom. Luhrman felt audiences would walk away from "Elvis" with a feeling they had met a person they did not know before.
But it’s Elvis’ family who lavished the most praise on the young star and veteran director. Daughter Lisa Marie Presley speaking of the film, said it was "the most important thing ever made about it him." Both Presley and her daughter Riley said they had watched the film multiple times and cried. Each time brought a different understanding of the genius the world knows in one word — Elvis.
The film opens Friday.