Tom Hanks only understood the magnitude of what he took on when he saw Austin Butler in full Elvis Presley garbs.
Butler and Hanks star as Presley and his manager Col. Tom Parker, respectively, in the upcoming “Elvis” biopic. The stars and director Baz Luhrmann recently sat down with Jess Cagle for a SiriusXM Townhall. Hanks has won two Academy Awards for Best Actor over his 40-plus years as an actor, but the gravity of “Elvis” had him stunned.
“You know, the playing Elvis in an Elvis movie, that’s called ‘Elvis’. It’s like playing Buddha in a movie called Buddha,” Hanks said. “You know, there’s a, you’re gonna have to, you got some big blues weight shoes to fill there.
“His hairdo took longer than my 75 pounds in order to put on. But when he finally came in, it was like, you couldn’t take your eyes off this guy. There he was always already Elvis incarnated, but there was one point where, you know, I’m in my flip flops and you’re in your sweatpants and we’re going to our cars or something like that. And we had a moment. It wasn’t long, but we locked eyes. And in each other’s eyes, we saw the deeply rooted fear and terror of what we had, we had taken on.”
Hanks may have been nervous about “Elvis” but Butler was just as nervous meeting Hanks.
“You know, you hear him laugh down the hallway and I just go that’s Woody,” Butler said. “But, yeah, I I’ll say when I met Tom the first time, I was very nervous. You know, it’s always a thing of meeting your heroes. And he just, I was in the back of Baz’s house in Australia and they were standing out by this little creek that they had in the back.
“And I see Baz and Tom standing off in the distance and I’m kind of walking up thinking, ‘Okay, what am I gonna say?’ And Tom turns around and he sees me and he just goes, ‘My boy, give me a hug.’ And he gives me the biggest bear hug. And then just, you broke down all the barriers of that, that thing. And I, I revere you to this day, but you humanize yourself for me and I I’m forever grateful.”
Filmmaker Luhrmann also had his own brush with stardom. He detailed an unexpected phone call from Denzel Washington, who he did not have a personal relationship with prior.
“I get a cold call from Denzel Washington, who I do not know,” Luhrmann said. “And he says, ‘You’re about to meet an actor I’ve been on stage with. You will not believe this young man’s work ethic. There is just no minute he won’t give to the art.’ And then I met with Austin…”
“Elvis” premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival to positive reviews. Its North American theatrical release is set for June 24.