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Movies & TV

20th Jun 2022

WATCH: Baz Luhrmann compares Elvis star Austin Butler to Leonardo DiCaprio

Rory Cashin

“He has this effect on people, not just girls, but everyone. They just love him.”

Before the likes of Titanic and The Beach truly launched him as the ultimate turn-of-the-century pin-up actor, Leonardo DiCaprio captured the world’s minds and hearts with his career-launching turn in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet.

While it is obvious that DiCaprio was always going to be a star, it is clear that his role in the modern retelling of Shakespeare’s tragic romance truly sent him into the stratosphere, and it is equally clear that Luhrmann knows how to spot an axis-alteringly good leading performer.

The same goes with Luhrmann’s latest movie Elvis, the biopic of the beloved singer and actor, for which the director turned down box office sure-thing Harry Styles in favour of someone far less known: Austin Butler.

It was a risk that has massively paid off, and although it is probably way too early to call, it would have to be a uniquely brilliant year for other actors in order for Butler not to find himself with at least an Oscar nomination for his performance.

In the run-up to the movie’s release, JOE had the opportunity to chat to director Baz Luhrmann himself about his new epic, and you can check out that full interview right here:

During our chat, we pointed out a parallel between Elvis being discovered for his talent and made massively popular, and how this Elvis movie could do the exact same thing for Butler.

Noting the similarities, Luhrmann told us the following:

“It happened to me once before and I never thought it would happen again. I had a young actor with me, and I was 29 or 30, and I was trying to find how to do a modern Shakespeare. And we were sitting on the set in Mexico, and I was reading him a script, about a big boat that hits a chunk of ice and sinks. And he’s going like ‘I can’t do this, it’s got ghosts in it!'”

“And then, this really happened, we made the film [Romeo & Juliet], and we were in London. On the PR tour just like we are now, and we were crossing a road, and there were girls screaming. Just yelling and screaming. And I’m starting to see that with Austin.”

Luhrmann also told us about Butler’s connection with Elvis himself:

“I think there are incredible parallels between Austin [and Elvis], his own journey, losing his mum the same year as Elvis did, there’s some sort of spiritual [connection].

“Austin is like that anyway, he’s got this incredible, vulnerable heart. He’s sort of robust, he’s strong, but he has an effect on [everyone]. Even before anyone knew who he was.

“We were in Nashville, recording in churches and stuff, and I remember we went to a cafe just on the side of the road, and a waitress came out and she was asking [our order], and Austin just looked up – and there is this famous photo of Elvis at a cafe – and he just asked for a coffee in the nicest way, and he always makes people feel like they are the only person in the room.

“He doesn’t try to do it, he just does. And it reminded me of that photo. He has this effect on people, not just girls, but everyone. They just love him. I mean, they just do.”

Elvis arrives in Irish cinemas on Friday, 24 June. Check out our interview with Austin Butler right here:

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