Austin Butler to star as Elvis in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic

Elvis Presley and Harry Styles

Baz Luhrmann's Elvis Presley biopic has found its king of rock 'n' roll.

After numerous screen tests, Austin Butler has been tapped to play Elvis Presley in Luhrmann's next feature film for Warner Bros. The studio tested with a handful of actors in full hair and make-up at the end of June to see who would join Tom Hanks, who is playing Presley's manager, Col. Tom Parker.

"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," Luhrmann said in a statement. "Throughout the casting process, it was an honor for me to encounter such a vast array of talent. I had heard about Austin Butler from his stand-out role opposite Denzel Washington in 'The Iceman Cometh' on Broadway, and 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."

21 PHOTOS
Elvis Presley
See Gallery
Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley plays guitar during a concert in Fort Worth, Texas, early in his career. (Photo by File Photo/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS/Sipa USA) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
January 16, 1971; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis Presley is reflected in the roof of his automobile as he looks into the camera after attending a luncheon January 16, 1971 at what was then the Holiday Inn Rivermont. The luncheon was part of the festivites surrounding his being named one of the Jaycees of America's Ten Outstanding Young Men in America. Mandatory Credit: Dave Darnell/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
July 5, 1976; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis Presley performs what would be his last Memphis concert July 5, 1976 before a crowd of 12,000 at Mid-South Coliseum. Exactly twenty-two years earlier (7/5/54), Elvis recorded "That's All Right" at Sam Phillips' little studio at 706 Union. Introducing the song, he said: "I've had some people say - well, you can't do that song anymore - well, you, by God, just watch me." Mandatory Credit: Barney Sellers/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
July 5, 1976; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis Presley performs what would be his last Memphis concert July 5, 1976 before a crowd of 12,000 at Mid-South Coliseum. Exactly twenty-two years earlier (7/5/54), Elvis recorded "That's All Right" at Sam Phillips' little studio at 706 Union. Introducing the song, he said: "I've had some people say - well, you can't do that song anymore - well, you, by God, just watch me." Mandatory Credit: Barney Sellers/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
June 30, 1972; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis Presley and Mary Kathleen Selph (cq) (Left) seen at the corner of South Parkway and Elvis Presley Blvd. Mandatory Credit: Dave Darnell/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
Jan 16, 1971; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis Presley and wife, Priscilla stand as he is introduced at a luncheon at the Holiday Inn Rivermont. Presley was being honored by the Jaycees of America as one of the Outstanding Young Men In America. Seated at left fore and applauding is William N. Morris, former sheriff of Shelby County. Seated and applauding to right of Priscilla (and staring at camera) is Red West. Charlie Hodge is clapping at left next to Morris. Vernon Presley is at lower right corner. Mandatory Credit: Dave Darnell/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
March 7, 1965; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis fiddles with an electric bass inside Graceland in this photograph published March 7, 1965 in the first issue of Mid-South, the now-defunct Sunday magazine of The Commercial Appeal. Elvis had misgivings about allowing pictures to be made inside his home. "It's not that I don't want pictures," he said. "You know what I mean. Some people might think I am looking for publicity or trying to exploit my home. I certainly don't want anyone to think that." Mandatory Credit: Charles Nicholas/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
Jan 16, 1971; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis Presley (cq) signs autographs for fans after leaving a luncheon at the Holiday Inn Rivermont. At left is Red West (cq). Behind West is William N. Morris (cq), former sheriff of Shelby County. Presley was being honored by the Jaycees as one of the Outstanding Young Men In America. This photograph appeared on Page One of The Commercial Appeal when Presley died in 1977. Mandatory Credit: Dave Darnell/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
1965; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis Presley at his piano inside Graceland in this 1965 photograph. Elvis had misgivings about allowing pictures to be made inside his home. "It's not that I don't want pictures," he said. "You know what I mean. Some people might think I am looking for publicity or trying to exploit my home. I certainly don't want anyone to think that." Mandatory Credit: Charles Nicholas/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
Oct 13, 1960; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis Presley and his Rolls Royce in October, 1960. Back home after a stint of movie making in Hollywood, Elvis proudly posed with the latest mark of his fame as the king of rock and roll - a brand new black Standard Salon Silver Cloud II Rolls Royce worth some $18,000. Despite his aversion to flying, the teenage idol landed at Municipal Airport, Monday afternoon, Oct. 10, 1960, with little fanfare and went directly to his Graceland estate, where he will take it easy about a month before going back to Hollywood for another film. Mandatory Credit: Robert Williams/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
July 8, 1960; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis Presley and several friends took a spin around McKellar Lake in his new boat Friday July 8, 1960. He purchased the 16-foot powder blue speedboat the night before. Elvis said he had first become interested in boating while in California. Asked if he planned to ski, he said: "Not today. Don't want to make an idiot of myself." Believed to be Joe Esposito at right. Mandatory Credit: Fred Griffith/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
March 26, 1958; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis Presley was outfitted with all of his military gear at Ft Chaffee, Ark. Elvis was inducted March 24, 1958 at Memphis and spent several days at Ft. Chaffee before moving on to Ft. Hood Texas on the 28th, where he would undergo six months training. He would return to his hometown March 7, 1960 after completing his tour of duty. Mandatory Credit: Robert Williams/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
March 24, 1958; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis Presley and fellow inductee Farley Guy (right), an old friend from Lauderdale Courts on March 24, 1958. After reporting for duty about 6:30 a.m. at the Draft Board office in the M&M Building, 198 South Main, he and other inductees would spend much of the day at Kennedy Veterans Hospital for processing and physicals before boarding a bus for Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. By the 28th, Elvis arrived at Fort Hood, Texas where he would undergo six months of training before shipping off to Germany. Presley moved about the rec room at Kennedy constantly. "If you think I'm nervous, it's because I am," he joked. Mandatory Credit: Robert Williams/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
March 24, 1958; Memphis, TN, USA; The U.S. Army provided a box lunch for Elvis Presley and other inductees the day they reported for duty March 24, 1958. Elvis ate parts of ham and beef sandwiches. He drank a glass of milk and ate a piece of apple pie and an apple. "Man, I'm hungry," he said. Twenty minutes later he was stretched out on a couch for a brief nap. By the 28th, Elvis arrived at Fort Hood, Texas where he would undergo six months of training before shipping off to Germany. Mandatory Credit: Barney Sellers/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
December 27, 1957; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis Presley, poses with his house guests, Kathy Gabriel, 19, left, and Hanneri Melcher, 20, in Memphis. Melcher, Miss Austria 1957, met Elvis in Las Vegas in November 1957, and visited Graceland at Christmas time with her roommate, 1957's Miss Ohio, Kathy Gabriel as they were on their way to New York. Elvis had just received news of a 60-day draft extension to March 20. Mandatory Credit: Robert Williams/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
June 28, 1957; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis Presley made an appearance, but did not sing at Russwood Park for a benefit for St. Jude's Hospital on June 28, 1957. Elvis is flanked by comic Lou Costello and actress Jane Russell. Others appearing on the program before an estimated crowd of 11,000 were singers Roberta Sherwood, Ferlin Husky and actress Susan Hayward. Mandatory Credit: Barney Sellers/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
Apr 19, 1957; Memphis, TN, USA; Yvonne Lime, Hollywood starlet, and Elvis Presley looked lovey-dovey at each other Friday April 19, 1957 in front of Graceland, Elvis' new $100,000 mansion near Whitehaven. Miss Lime, who was visiting for the Easter holidays, had a small part in "Loving You", Elvis' second motion picture which premiered July 9th of that year. Production had begun in mid January and wrapped by mid-March. Mandatory Credit: Robert Williams/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
December 27, 1956; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis Presley playing touch football at the Dave Wells Community Center December 27, 1956. Several hundred people watched the singer pass, kick and run a touchdown. Elvis's first movie, "Love Me Tender", in which he performed several songs, had premiered November 15th in New York City. The movie opened Thanksgiving Eve (Nov. 21, 1956) at Loew's State Theatre in Memphis. On Sunday January 6, 1957, Elvis would make his third and final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. In between the football game and the Sullivan appearance, he reported for his pre-induction Army physical January 4th. Mandatory Credit: Barney Sellers/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
December 27, 1956; Memphis, TN, USA; Elvis Presley playing touch football at the Dave Wells Community Center December 27, 1956. Several hundred people watched the singer pass, kick and run a touchdown. Elvis's first movie, "Love Me Tender", in which he performed several songs, had premiered November 15th in New York City. The movie opened Thanksgiving Eve (Nov. 21, 1956) at Loew's State Theatre in Memphis. On Sunday January 6, 1957, Elvis would make his third and final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. In between the football game and the Sullivan appearance, he reported for his pre-induction Army physical January 4th. Mandatory Credit: Barney Sellers/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
FILE PHOTO 1972 - Elvis Presley performs in concert during his "Aloha From Hawaii" 1972 television special. January 8 marks what would have been Elvis's 60th birthday and fans are expected to gather in his home-town of Memphis for the occasion. REUTERS/Stringer
FILE PHOTO: President Richard Nixon meets with Elvis Presley December 21, 1970 at the White House. (Photo by National Archives)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Luhrmann also co-wrote the script with Craig Pearce. The movie covers the relationship between the veteran manager and the young singer, who came from dirt-poor origins to become an iconic star who changed the course of music. The project marks Luhrmann's first film since his adaptation of "The Great Gatsby" starring Leonardo DiCaprio. He most recently worked on the Netflix series "The Get Down."

The plan is to shoot at the top of 2020 to accommodate Hank's schedule, which includes the upcoming Paul Greengrass movie "News of the World," which shoots in the fall.

Butler's recent credits include Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" and Jim Jarmucsch's zombie comedy "The Dead Don't Die." On the small screen, he has starred on the CW's "The Carrie Diaries," "Switched at Birth" and "Zoey 101."

- This article first appeared on Variety

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS