How being Elvis' granddaughter influenced Riley Keough's take on rock star Daisy Jones
When you're in the presence of Riley Keough, you're in the presence of rock history.
Now, that's true in more ways than one. Keough, daughter of the late Lisa Marie Presley and granddaughter to the king of rock'n'roll himself, Elvis Presley, is putting her own stamp on rock music as Daisy Jones, the title character of new series Daisy Jones & the Six based on the Taylor Jenkins Reid novel of the same name.
Daisy is a wild child of the 1970s, a little bit Stevie Nicks, a dash of Janis Joplin, and a heaping of Patti Smith for good measure — and an entity all her own. She's self-destructive and an addict, but she's also a musical genius, who unleashes her voice and talents when she begins writing songs with Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin), frontman of the Six who reluctantly accepts Daisy joining his band.
But Keough says her family's general affinity for music informed her take on Daisy more than anything to do with Elvis (who died before she was born), despite any parallels between Daisy and Elvis in the familiar parable of musical genius tormented by self-doubt and drug addiction.
Lacey Terrell/Prime Video; Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images Riley Keough as fictional musician Daisy Jones; the actress's grandfather Elvis Presley
"My whole family are musicians, so I certainly have a lot of experience around musicians," she tells EW. "I dated a few musicians (laughs). I've grown up with a lot of that in my life. So, I'm very familiar with musicians, but I'm also very not familiar with singing or playing guitar. Like at all."
That's right, Keough had never played the guitar or tried to sing before landing the role of Daisy Jones, despite her connection to rock royalty. "It was an interesting thing coming to work and telling my guitar teacher that I've never picked up a guitar," she says. "He was like, 'What? That sounds crazy to me.' And it is kind of crazy (laughs). But I always have been more interested in films. So, me and Sam had to start from the bottom and learn everything."
As for how the Elvis connection might've shaped Keough's performance beyond mere musical ability, showrunner Scott Neustadter says it was never something he and his leading lady discussed.
Lacey Terrell/Prime Video Riley Keough as Daisy Jones
"It never came up," he says. "The Southern California seventies sound that we were doing is so different and so removed from Elvis that we never really thought about it at [all]. That so had nothing to do with why she was there that she never brought it up, and we never did either."
There was one moment where a practical change was made — but it was to avoid distracting the audience more than anything to do with Keough's performance. "At the Formosa Cafe, we were going to film in a booth," Neustadter explains. "And literally, they have like a shrine to Elvis over the booth and we were like, 'Let's move that [scene] over here (laughs). It's a little distracting.'"
Regardless, when Daisy Jones & the Six hits Prime Video on March 3, audiences won't be able to help falling in love with Keough and her performance.
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