Elvis director Baz Luhrmann reveals that Denzel Washington was instrumental in getting Austin Butler cast in the lead role of Elvis Presley.
The actor got his start in the industry when he was just 14 years old, booking a two-season gig on the Nickelodeon series Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide.
Butler followed up that series with stints on a pair of family dramas: The CW’s Life Unexpected and Freeform’s Switched at Birth.
More recently he has portrayed the iconic fantasy character Wil Ohmsford in the Terry Brooks adaptation The Shannara Chronicles and the Manson Family member Tex Watson in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.
After laying all that groundwork in television, Butler is ready to burst onto the film scene in a major way with this leading role as Elvis.
He will be portraying the iconic crooner in this film, which has been described as more of an “epic musical drama” about his career rather than a proper biopic or musical.
The film, which is set to come to theaters on June 24, 2022 following its Cannes premiere in May, will also heavily feature the singer’s complicated relationship with his manager Colonel Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks.
The ensemble cast will also include Olivia DeJonge, Dacre Montgomery, and recent Oscar nominee Kodi Smit-McPhee from The Power of the Dog.
While speaking with EW about Elvis, Luhrmann revealed how Butler ended up being cast in the role.
The director was already taken with Butler’s audition video, in which he performed the classic track “Unchained Melody,” but what pushed him over the edge was a call from Washington. Luhrmann doesn’t personally know the iconic Training Day actor, so the call was something of a surprise.
Washington convinced the director to take a meeting with Butler when he said that “I’ve just worked with this guy on stage. I’ve never seen a work ethic like it.”