See Elvis shake, rattle, and roll in first trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s biopic

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We’re all shook up after watching the first trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s long-anticipated Elvis biopic.

Warner Bros. dropped the trailer Tuesday, with a European-accented Tom Hanks narrating as Colonel Tom Parker, who bemoans those who make him out to be the villain in this story. We get glimpses of Austin Butler’s Elvis Presley, including his early days in Tennessee, the gyrating sensation he became, his connection to the Civil Rights movement, and his iconic 1968 comeback special.

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“We are two, odd lonely children, reaching for eternity,” proclaims Hanks’ Parker, as he paints a tale of fame and destiny shared by the two men. If that doesn’t sound like the tagline for a Luhrmann film, we don’t know what does.

Luhrmann introduced the trailer to the media in advance of the drop, describing it as “an invitation to the movie.”

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Hugh Stewart/Warner Bros. Austin Butler as Elvis.

In breaking down his approach to telling Elvis’ story, he explained, “The great storytellers, like Shakespeare, they didn’t really do biographies. What they did was take a life and use a life as a canvas to explore a bigger idea. The life of Elvis could not be a better canvas in which to explore America in the ’50s and ’60s. That life is culturally and socially at the center of the ’50s, ’60s, and even the ’70s.”

It’s as much Parker’s story as it is Presley’s, and we see that through Hanks’ narration (notably, Hanks was in the process of shooting this film when he caught COVID-19, a pivotal moment in America’s view of the pandemic).

Butler, who portrays Elvis across several decades, was also on hand to discuss playing the King of Rock & Roll. “Getting to explore the humanity of somebody who’s become the wallpaper of society in a way,” Butler said of his reasons for signing on to the role, which took him four years from audition to release. “He’s such an icon and held up to superhuman status, so to get to explore that for years now and learn why he was the way that he was and find the human within that icon, that was such a joy. I could do it for the rest of my life.”

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Hugh Stewart/Warner Bros. Austin Butler as Elvis.

Butler was charged with not only inhabiting Presley’s mannerisms and physicality but also singing his early career songs. For the later tracks, Luhrmann mixed Butler and Presley’s voices. But for Butler, the process was all about getting past the fixation of an impersonation, which is a career path all its own, and finding something deeper. Butler likened his discovery process to trying on his father’s suit as a child and finding the sleeves much too long, before ultimately growing into the role.

“The life is what’s important,” he said. “You can impersonate somebody, but to find the humanity and the life within, I had to unleash myself from the constraints of that and try to live the life as truthfully as possible. It’s such an incredible responsibility. I feel not only a responsibility to Elvis and his life, but to his family and all the people around the world who love him so dearly.”

Elvis hits theaters June 24. Watch the trailer above for more.

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Hugh Stewart/Warner Bros. Austin Butler as Elvis.

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