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Last year, Baz Lurhmann’s Elvis biopic was everywhere from the Met Gala to awards season. This year, it’s Priscilla Presley’s time to shine.
Sofia Coppola is writing, directing, and producing the film Priscilla, adapted from Priscilla Beaulieu Presley’s 1985 memoir, Elvis and Me. Cailee Spaeny, best known for roles in Mare of Easttown, Bad Times at El Royale, and On the Basis of Sex, will star in the titular role. Meanwhile Euphoria’s Jacob Elordi will star opposite her as the King of Rock n Roll.
Here’s what else we know so far.
What is Priscilla about?
Here’s the official synopsis from A24:
“When teenage Priscilla Beaulieu meets Elvis Presley at a party, the man who is already a meteoric rock-and-roll superstar becomes someone entirely unexpected in private moments: a thrilling crush, an ally in loneliness, a vulnerable best friend. Through Priscilla’s eyes, Sofia Coppola tells the unseen side of a great American myth in Elvis and Priscilla's long courtship and turbulent marriage, from a German army base to his dream-world estate at Graceland, in this deeply felt and ravishingly detailed portrait of love, fantasy, and fame.”
“Her story was so vivid in my mind and the visuals of that world, Memphis, the ’60s. It’s so American,” Coppola told The Hollywood Reporter. “And I always like themes about finding one’s identity and teenage girls growing into adulthood.”
The filmmaker also connected to Presley’s story as someone who also came of age in the orbit of a towering cultural figure: her father, Francis Ford Coppola. “I know from my family what it’s like to be inside a show business family,” she added to THR.
Given its unflinching portrayal of Priscilla’s life, the film shows a side of Elvis that may be hard to watch for fans. These include his courting Priscilla when she was 14 and he was 24, choosing her clothes for her to wear, and giving her a black eye during a pillow fight, per THR. “It was a different time,” Priscilla Presley told Hollywood Reporter. “I lived in his world. I wanted to please him. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to have fun with him. I wanted to see what it was that he liked.”
Who else is in the cast?
Aside from Spaeny and Elordi, Succession's Dagmara Domińczyk plays Priscilla’s mother.
Though Coppola considered a number of actors for the role of Elvis, Spaeny was always her first choice for Priscilla, Deadline reports. When she finally met with Elordi for coffee in New York, “all the girls in the room just turned to him, they gravitated,” she told THR. “I just felt like, ‘Yeah, he has that kind of charisma that I imagine Elvis had.’”
The team behind the scenes includes: cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd, costume designer Stacey Battat, editor Sarah Flack, and production designer Tamara Deverell—all longtime Coppola collaborators, according to Variety.
When will the film be released?
Priscilla arrives in theaters on October 27, 2023 via A24. It just premiered at Venice Film Festival in early September. Production began last fall in Toronto.
What has Priscilla Presley said about the film?
“The people who are watching, they’re living it with you, and you hope and pray that they get it. They get your feelings, your hurts, your sensitivity,” the film's subject told THR.
At the premiere in Venice this month, Presley appeared to be moved and was seen wiping away tears at the end of the screening. She praised the film at a press conference after, saying “Sofia did an amazing job,” per Vulture.
She also took a moment to address some of the movie’s controversial moments, such as her age gap with Elvis and their sexual dynamic.
“I was more of a listener,” she said, according to Vulture. “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 … I was older in life than in numbers.”
She added, “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 … 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, 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.”
What has Elvis’ estate said about the film?
The estate is reportedly unhappy with Priscilla. TMZ reported in June that it was made without the estate's knowledge or consent. One official even told the outlet the film was “horrible.”
In response to the criticism, Prisicilla Presley told TMZ, “I am very excited to see the interpretation of my book by the masterful Sofia Coppola. She has such an extraordinary perspective and I have always been such an admirer of her work. I'm certain this movie will take everyone on an emotional journey.”
Elvis Presley Enterprises also turned down requests to include Presley's own music in the film. “They don’t like projects that they haven’t originated, and they’re protective of their brand,” Coppola told THR. “But that made us be more creative.”
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