After an intense search that ensnared boldface names such as Harry Styles and Ansel Elgort, Baz Luhrmann has found the king of rock ‘n’ roll in Austin Butler.
The upcoming Warner Bros. project is described as focusing on Elvis Presley’s rise and zenith, with a major aspect being his relationship with Col. Tom Parker. Tom Hanks is set to play Parker, the manager who controlled every aspect of Presley’s life.
Warners is describing the drama as having a story that will “delve into their complex dynamic spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and the loss of innocence in America.”
Luhrmann is producing the feature with his wife Catherine Martin. The two have been developing the project since the director wrapped The Great Gatsby. Gail Berman is also a producer.
“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 Monday in a statement. “Throughout the casting process, it was an honor for me to encounter such a vast array of talent. I had heard about Austin Butler from his standout 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.”
Luhrmann wrote the script with Craig Pearce, with whom he also wrote The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge!
Luhrmann had narrowed his hopefuls to Styles, Elgort, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Miles Teller and Butler, all of whom tested for the role in late June.
Butler, who appeared on TV’s The Carrie Diaries and Arrow, will next be seen in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.