From The Great Gatsby to Moulin Rouge! to Romeo + Juliet, it’s clear that Baz Luhrmann always goes big. Larger than life, if you will, and sometimes that doesn’t always translate well onscreen (Australia), but one can never accuse the Aussie writer and director of phoning things in. Well, Luhrmann’s been hard at work gestating an Elvis Presley biopic that will co-star Tom Hanks as Col. Tom Parker, the manager of The King. For the role of Presley, the shortlist was said to be a competitive one. Harry Styles, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ansel Elgort, and Miles Teller stepped up as frontrunners, but it was Butler who rose victorious after all of these actors auditioned in full-on hair and makeup.
Luhrmann tweeted Elvis’ mugshot to make the announcement of Butler’s casting. In a statement to Variety, the director explained that he’d learned about Butler after he starred in Broadway’s The Iceman Cometh opposite Denzel Washington, and after a bunch of screen testing, he knew he’d found his guy:
“I knew I couldn’t make this film if the casting wasn’t absolutely right, and we searched thoroughly for an actor with the ability to evoke the singular natural movement and vocal qualities of this peerless star, but also the inner vulnerability of the artist. Throughout the casting process, it was an honor for me to encounter such a vast array of talent … through a journey of extensive screen testing and music and performance workshops, I knew unequivocally that I had found someone who could embody the spirit of one of the world’s most iconic musical figures.”
Butler will be seen next as Tex in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. He also recently appeared in Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die, and his TV work includes Arrow and The Carrie Diaries. No release date has been set for Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic for Warner Bros. as of yet.