- Golden Globe Awards
Nominee Profile 2023: “Elvis”
Best Motion Picture- Drama
While Elvis Presley created a seismic shift in popular culture when his hip-shaking, soul-stirring music crash-landed into a landscape of conservative America in the 1950s, his legacy, for many, in later years has become a punchline – a bloated, bejeweled Las Vegas act, now more often immortalized as wedding chapel impersonators.
But for visionary Australian writer/director Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, The Great Gatsby), retelling the life story of the iconic singer in his movie Elvis has been a long-held passion, a chance to not only reclaim Presley’s rightful place in the music lexicon but also an opportunity to create an exuberant kaleidoscope of American history.
“I didn’t want to do a traditional biopic,” Luhrmann said at the Australian premiere of Elvis in the Gold Coast (where the film was shot). “For me, it’s taking a historical figure and exploring America in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s when Elvis was at the crossroads of pop culture.”
Elvis takes us from his impoverished childhood in the small town of Tupelo, Mississippi where he first experienced the Black music and rhythms that would influence his own music, comet-like rise to fame in the 1950s, army stint, and re-invention as a family-friendly Hollywood matinee idol, revelatory 1968 Elvis: The Comeback Special on television, eventual slide into stagnation as a Vegas lounge singer to an early tragic death in 1977 at the age of 42.
Luhrmann finds his entry into this world through the eyes of the enigmatic and mysterious Colonel Tom Parker (played by Tom Hanks), who, as Presley’s manager, guided and controlled him.
“It’s the complicated relationship between two men – one focused on the commerce and one focused on the art,” said Luhrmann. “Parker was all about the sell. Some would call him an evil genius but ultimately, his control placed Elvis in a trap he couldn’t escape.”
For actor Austin Butler, who navigated the enormous challenge of portraying Elvis, it was a role of a lifetime. Speaking at the Australian premiere, he said: “I didn’t know if I could do it and there were many times, in the beginning, I had to push through a lot of fear because of the responsibility. For me, it was so fascinating to peel back the layers of this icon and all the misinterpretations we have seen of him over the years and find the human vulnerabilities and triumphs he had.”
Elvis received three Golden Globe nominations, Best Picture – Drama, Best Director – Motion Picture (Baz Luhrmann), and Best Actor – Motion Picture – Drama (Austin Butler).