This article is part of Greenlight — The Latch’s commitment to the Australian film industry. For more content in this series, click here.
Four months after auditioning for the role of Priscilla Presley in Elvis, Olivia DeJonge was told by her agent that she had been chosen for the part. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came with a lot of expectations, not just from the fans, but from Presley herself.
“I was so scared that she was going to watch it and be like, ‘what the hell, what did she do!? Why did she choose to do that?’,” DeJonge told The Latch. “There’s heaps of pressure, and I put a lot of pressure on myself as well.”
DeJonge, who is only 24-years-old, gave a career-defining performance. Austin Butler may have been the star of the show, but the actress made the perfect companion. DeJonge managed to humanise Presley, and really highlight her empathetic and maternal qualities.
“Baz [Luhrmann] and everybody were so supportive of me and my choices, and the fact that [Priscilla Presley] has since said that she does love the film and given me the A-Okay on my performance, I’m happy.”
After watching the movie for the first time, Presley shared her thoughts on Instagram, and she sang nothing but praises for the star and the rest of the cast and crew.
“I’ve seen Elvis the film, I watched the trailer over a dozen times. But the words I heard from my daughter on how much she loved the film and that Riley will love it too when she sees it brought tears,” wrote the 76-year-old. “I relived every moment in this film. It took me a few days to overcome the emotions as it did with Lisa. Beautifully done Baz, Tom, Austin and Olivia.”
— Priscilla Presley (@Cilla_Presley) May 5, 2022
They say behind every successful man is a strong woman. Elvis and Priscilla’s relationship was not perfect by any means — and there are certainly some problematic elements that can’t be ignored — but there’s no denying that Priscilla acted as a guiding light for the King of Rock.
Before getting into character, DeJonge naturally went into a rabbit hole of research. While she wasn’t able to sit with Presley beforehand, she admits to taking every other avenue possible to help her performance.
“I read her book a hundred times. I watched all of the docs on her and Elvis — I think familiarising myself with the context for the film was important. I also worked with Polly Bennett, my movement coach,” she explained.
The making of Elvis has been a long and complicated journey, but it’s one that’s been worth the wait. From Tom Hanks getting COVID while shooting to Butler ending up in hospital a day after filming concluded, the movie has certainly been an intense whirlwind.
However, Luhrmann and the rest of the cast and crew really dedicated themselves to this film, and their hard work is evident.
“It’s really felt like we’ve all been in labour for about three years, and finally the baby has been delivered and she’s perfect,” said DeJonge. “She’s loved, we’re all happy and everyone’s loving her. It’s a huge relief.”
Elvis will be released in HOYTS Cinemas nationwide on June 23.