If “Elvis” director Baz Luhrmann had had his way, then his biopic about the King of Rock and Roll would’ve been a whopping four hours long.
Unfortunately, it’s hard for movie theaters to run four-hour movies, just like it’s hard for audience members to sit through something that long in one go. Baz Luhrmann managed to cut down the 240-minute film into just 159 minutes for the theatrical release. But he told Variety all about the material he included in the original version. Including Elvis Presley’s meeting with former President Richard Nixon.
“I mean, I have a four-hour version, actually,” Luhrmann said. “I do. But you have to bring it down to 2 hours 30… I would have liked to lean into some of the other things more – there’s so much more. I mean, there’s lots of stuff that I shot like the relationship with the band, I had to pare [that] down – and it’s so interesting how the Colonel [Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks] gets rid of them.”
Per Baz Luhrmann, some of the other cut content included more about Elvis’ relationship with Dixie, his first girlfriend. “And later on how… once he’s caught in a trap, and he’s discombobulated and doesn’t understand… someone who’s got such a hole in his heart like Elvis constantly looking and searching for love and finding it on stage but nowhere else.”
As for the Nixon scene, Luhrmann said he shot that scene along with additional storytelling about the singer’s “addiction to barbiturates and all of that.”
“What happens is he starts doing wackadoo things – like going down to see Nixon,” Baz Luhrmann explained “I had it in there for a while but there just comes a point where you can’t have everything in, so I just tried to track the spirit of the character.”
‘Elvis’ Director Baz Luhrmann Talks Receiving the Presley Family’s Support for the Film
Filming biopics can be a tricky business, especially when family members of the deceased are still living. And though Baz Luhrmann knew he would move forward with the film one way or another, it meant a lot that he received the support of Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, plus Riley Keough.
“I can’t underline enough that no member of the Presley family needs to endorse this film, nor did I have to fulfill any particular direction from them,” Luhrmann told EW earlier. “They could have liked it, loathed it, whatever. Their response is genuine. And for them to kindly bring us into their house and to say the things they did, I didn’t really see coming.”
All three women discussed their emotional responses to the film in interviews and social media posts leading up to the release. You can see “Elvis” in theaters starting this Friday, June 24.