Austin Butler has been cast as legendary rocker Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s still-untitled project about the superstar, Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich announced on Monday.
Luhrmann will explore the life and music of Elvis through his complicated relationship with his manager Col. Tom Parker, who will be played by Tom Hanks.
Butler made his Broadway debut in 2019 opposite Denzel Washington in Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh,” for which he received rave reviews. He will next be seen opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood.” He can currently be seen alongside Bill Murray in Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die.” His other credits include “Arrow,” “The Carrie Diaries,” “The Shannara Chronicles,” “Life Unexpected,” “Zoey 101” and “The Intruders.”
Earlier this month, TheWrap reported that Butler, Ansel Elgort, Harry Styles, Aaron Taylor Johnson and Miles Teller had screen-tested to play the iconic singer. Other contenders who met with the studio for the role include rapper G-Eazy aka Gerald Gillum.
“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.”
Luhrmann wrote the script with Craig Pearce with whom he also wrote “The Great Gatsby” and “Moulin Rouge!” The script will not be based on any pre-existing material. Luhrmann is producing along with his wife Catherine Martin. They have both have been developing the project since the director wrapped up his last film, 2013’s “The Great Gatsby.” Gail Berman is producing for Tecumseh Productions.
Butler is represented by WME, Anonymous Content and Imprint PR. Deadline first reported the news.