Tupelo is well represented in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis”

Stars and those who knew Elvis talk about the movie, and the entertainer's influence during Graceland screening

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WCBI) – The long-awaited movie about the life of Tupelo’s own Elvis Presley opens nationwide Friday.  The movie, by director Baz Luhrmann, has received critical acclaim from reviewers, and those closest to Elvis.

As much as he enjoyed playing Colonel Tom Parker in Baz Luhrmann’s “ELVIS’ Tom Hanks says he looked forward to seeing Austin Butler make a stunning transformation during the filming.

” One of the great pleasures I got out of it was periodically, I got to watch Elvis himself because when Austin Butler walked onto the set, you couldn’t take your eyes off of him,” Hanks said.

“ELVIS” tells the story of the life of Elvis Presley, and it also looks at the interesting relationship the entertainer had with his longtime manager.

Director Baz Luhrmann says he wanted to show audiences the impact Elvis had on the culture when he came onto the scene.

” I think under a certain age, Elvis is seen as a Halloween costume or that guy in the white suit.  What they don’t understand is Elvis, the rebel, and the danger he was.  When he was living in that environment on Beale Street, and his friendship with great black musicians.  He never laid claim, he only said, ” Look, I grew up in it,’ and he put his own spin on things, melding white country with black gospel,” Luhrmann said.

Tupelo is well represented in Elvis, in fact, Baz Luhrmann and Austin Butler spent time in Tupelo doing a lot of research, ahead of production.

“I will tell you, for me, a lot of things, even just being in Tupelo, hearing the bugs in the trees, feeling what the air feels like, those little things, they play a part, because all of that fed into who Elvis was and the fact that he was raised in one of the few white houses in a black neighborhood, going to juke joints and gospel churches, the fact that all of that is right there around Tupelo is just amazing,” Butler said.

Priscilla Presley, who is portrayed in the movie by actress Olivia DeJonge, says Tupelo was always near to Elvis’ heart.

“He has taken me to see his home he lived in Tupelo, so many times, so many memories were there, it also resembled what he was and what he had at that, and what he became, and how he went from very poor to very rich and he never forgot his roots,” Presley said.

Priscilla Presley also believes the movie will introduce Elvis to a younger audience, and Tom Hanks has another hope for those who see the film.

“I hope they get the “Bossa Nova Baby,” Hanks said.

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