Everyone is talking about Austin Butler’s electrifying performance in Elvis. The musical biopic directed by Baz Luhrmann has taken audiences by storm thanks to its glitzy and realistic portrayal of the King of Rock n’ Roll. But Butler is not the only Elvis actor in the film. Australian newcomer Chaydon Jay plays the showman as a young man early in the film. It’s a relatively short role, but Jay made it a memorable one.
Jay spoke with CBS News about the huge opportunity to play such a well-known figure in a major picture. It’s his first film role, but he’s already looking forward to what will hopefully be a long career.
“It was very important to be able to get Elvis within my own bones,” Jay said. “Not just moving like Elvis but understanding where that movement comes from. His passion. His energy.”
An early sequence in the film shows Elvis’s first exposure to gospel music during a tented church service. Elvis grew up in a poor small town in Mississippi, and Lurhman does a fantastic job of recreating the electricity in the air when a young Elvis discovered the music.
“Walking into that tent – everything is so real. Which was so exciting. It was electric. It was alive,” Jay said. “There was real praising going on. And it was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in my life.”
Chaydon Jay Made a Major Impression as Elvis
The search for a perfect young Elvis was a difficult task for Luhrmann. The director also spoke to CBS News and said finding Jay was a true stroke of luck and praised the young actor’s performance.
“It was finding someone who could actually embody the interpretation that Austin Butler was doing,” Luhrmann said. “So I thought the chances of doing that were very very slim. And Chayden was like finding a needle in a haystack to be honest. And he’s wonderful in it.”
Jay credited Luhrmann for creating the perfect environment for him to get lost in the role of Elvis.
“Working with Baz is such a once-in-a-lifetime experience. He made every single moment on set just feel electrical,” Jay said. “He just really laid out the path for me in getting a good understanding and feel for the role. So there really wasn’t any pressure for me. It was just excitement cause he really is amazing.”
Jay’s short but memorable performance has impressed just about everyone who’s seen it. Even acclaimed actor Tom Hanks. Jay didn’t share any screen time with the actor, but they got to meet at the film’s premiere at Graceland where Hanks congratulated Jay on the great performance.
The future looks to be bright for the young actor who said his passion is “to be on set and bring the world of fantasy to light.”
“To be given the opportunity to play one of the significant and impactful musicians ever was such an honor,” Jay said. “It really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”