Elvis star Austin Butler reveals the advice Leonardo DiCaprio gave him about working with Baz Lurhmann in the director’s new musical biopic. Elvis star Austin Butler reveals the advice he got from Leonardo DiCaprio about working with director Baz Luhrmann. Butler landed the role of music icon Elvis Presley in Lurhmann’s biopic over a field of actors that at one point included pop star Harry Styles. And critics have indeed taken note of Butler’s work, singling him out for praise for his performance as the musical icon.
But director Luhrmann of course has crafted anything but a standard musical biopic with his depiction of Presley’s life. Instead Elvis sees Luhrmann pouring on the visual style, as is evident from the film’s trailers. This comes as no surprise for a director who for decades has brought his over-the-top visual approach to a variety of projects, including unconventional and imaginative literary adaptations like William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet and The Great Gatsby, as well as musical extravaganzas like Moulin Rouge and now Elvis. Doing the musical part of Elvis indeed proved a major challenge for star Butler, as he had to perform like Presley in the film’s centerpiece numbers. Being directed in these scenes and others by Luhrmann in fact proved to be extra-challenging for Butler as he revealed in a recent talk on the YouTube channel Jake’s Takes. According to Butler, Luhrmann made things interesting with his tendency to concoct new ideas on the fly and sometimes even rewrite script pages at the last second. But Butler was able to handle Luhrmann’s spontaneous approach after some advice he received earlier from DiCaprio, who worked with Luhrmann on both Romeo + Juliet and The Great Gatsby.
DiCaprio of course worked with Luhrmann at two very different points in his own career. On 1996’s Romeo + Juliet he was still a young actor just about to burst into superstardom, but on 2013’s The Great Gatsby he was the established Hollywood icon. No doubt his experience with Luhrmann was very different on those two films just given the realities of power dynamics on movie sets. But clearly DiCaprio is very familiar with Luhrmann’s working methods and was well positioned to advise Elvis star Butler on how to handle a director who is bursting with ideas and isn’t afraid to change things at the last second, even if it throws his stars somewhat off-balance. Overall it sounds like Butler had a good experience with Luhrmann despite the director’s challenging way of working. As previously stated, critics have singled out Butler for praise, so it seems whatever Luhrmann did, it worked. Audiences will get to judge for themselves whether Butler succeeds at bringing Elvis Presley to life when the film Elvis finally hits theaters.
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