HomeEntertainmentMusicCountry MusicHere’s Why Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ Was Cut From New ‘Elvis’ Biopic

Here’s Why Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ Was Cut From New ‘Elvis’ Biopic

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

There’s an emotional scene in Baz Luhrmann’s recent Elvis biopic that shows the King of Rock and Priscilla Presley having a brief heart-to-heart talk shortly after they ended their six-year marriage. In it, Elvis makes a reference to a Dolly Parton classic by saying “I will always love you.”

As some fans may already know, Austin Butler filmed a now-deleted scene where he actually sang Parton’s song in its entirety. Why it didn’t make it into the final cut had been a mystery until now.

In an interview with Variety, Luhrmann shared details about the scene, which took place in a Pullman Mercedes as the former couple drove to the airport. And he explained that it was intended to symbolize Elvis’ death. In his head, Parton’s song seemed to be the perfect addition to the mood. But it didn’t translate well to the screen.

“The script was pretty long,” he shared. “But I always wanted another moment where Priscilla came back into his life and that they were friends. In a way when he walks on that plane and it takes off, we don’t need to see him die. He’s dead.”

As they pulled up to the tarmac, Elvis and Priscilla spoke in a way that foreshadowed Elvis’ early death. And when he climbed the stairs to the plane, he effectively chose to leave his family for a career that ultimately destroyed him.

Elvis Presley Was Supposed to Cover The Classic Dolly Parton Hit

Luhrmann filmed Butler crooning Dolly Parton’s song because he was supposed to sing it in real life. But his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, famously nixed the project the night before Elvis was scheduled to record it.

Parton explained why Parker walked away from the song while she was a guest on Living & Learning With Reba McEntire.

“The night before the session, Colonel Tom called me and said, ‘You know, we don’t record anything with Elvis unless we have at least half the publishing,’” she recalled. ” I said, ‘I can’t do that.’ And he said, ‘Well, then we can’t do it.’ And I cried all night because I’d just pictured Elvis singing it. I know it wasn’t [his decision], but it’s true.”

In the deleted moment, Butler sang the song for Priscilla while they were in the back seat of the car. Priscilla tearfully said it was “beautiful.” And Elvis shared that Dolly wanted him to sing it, but the Colonel wouldn’t let him.

 “When Austin got out of the car, he looks across at Priscilla and says that line,” Luhrmann said. “So that’s where it comes from.”