Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla” was one of the few American productions able to bring its cast — Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Presley and Jacob Elordi as Elvis in the biographical coming-of-age drama about their relationship. At the Venice Film Festival press conference ahead of Monday night’s world premiere screening of the A24 release, they joined Sofia Coppola on the dais. But one person not on the panel and instead in the audience was Priscilla Presley herself.
While she opted not to participate in the panel initially, she did accept the mic when an Italian journalist asked what moved her most about the movie.
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“The ending,” said Priscilla Presley, speaking from the front row of the press corps. Her memoir forms the basis of Coppola’s Venice competition premiere, which peels back the layers of the seemingly fairy tale courtship between Elvis and Priscilla, who was 14 when she met the singer. The Elvis Presley estate has not been supportive of the film. “It’s very difficult to sit and watch a film about you, and about your life, about your love.”
Presley continued, after beginning to tear up and apologizing for it, “Sofia did an amazing job. She did her homework. We spoke a couple of times, and I really put everything out for her that I could […] It was very difficult for my parents to understand that Elvis would be so interested in me, and why. I was more of a listener. Elvis would pour his heart out to me in every way, in Germany, his fears, his hopes, the loss of his mother, which he never, ever got over. I was the person who really, really sat there to listen and to comfort him. That was really our connection, even though I was 14.”
Presley said, “I was older in life than in numbers.”
Presley used the rest of her remarks to clarify details about her May-December relationship with Elvis: “People think that was the attraction, it was sex. Not at all. I never had sex with him. He was very kind, very soft, very loving, but he also respected the fact I was only 14 years old. We were more in mind and thought and that was our relationship. Yes, he called me when he came back to the States. That was also part of our relationship, telling me all his woes and what was happening and how upset he was on the screen with the director [while making films]. I don’t know why he put so much trust in me, but he did. I never, ever, ever told anyone that I was seeing him, and that was another issue that he loved, the fact that I never gave him up in any way. I never told anyone at school that I was seeing him.”
She added, “We built a relationship, and that relationship went on, until yes, I left, and it wasn’t because I didn’t love him. He was the love of my life. It was the lifestyle that was so difficult for me, and I think any woman can relate to that, but it didn’t mar our relationship. We still remained very close, and of course, we had our daughter [Lisa Marie], and I made sure that he saw her all the time. It was like we never left each other, so I want to make that clear. Thank you.”
“Priscilla” premieres in competition at the Venice Film Festival on September 4.
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