Baz Luhrmann says he passed on Harry Styles to play Elvis because he's 'already an icon'
At least, it is for director Baz Luhrmann. While sitting down with Australia's Fitzy & Wippa radio show recently, Luhrmann revealed that he considered Styles for the role of the King in his new film Elvis, but ultimately felt that the former One Direction heartthrob's superstardom would work against the storytelling.
"Harry is a really talented actor. I would work on something with him, [but] the real issue with Harry is, he's Harry Styles," Luhrmann said. "He's already an icon. Harry and I came to a place, genuinely I mean, he was just desperate to put the suit on and explore. He's such a great spirit and I have nothing but great things to say about Harry Styles."
EW has reached out to reps for Luhrmann and Styles for comment.
Luhrmann has repeatedly said that he didn't discover Austin Butler through a traditional casting process, but that fate brought the young actor to him.
"He found me," Lurhmann previously told EW. "I received this videotape of this young man in a flood of tears playing 'Unchained Melody' and I thought, 'Wow, what is that? How is that happening?' And then I got a call from Denzel Washington, who gave me a cold call. I did not know Denzel. And he said, 'I've just worked with this guy on stage. I've never seen a work ethic like it.' And I'm like, 'Okay, I must see him.' Honestly, I put him through the wringer, but he lived Elvis. What he's managed to do is not do an impersonation, but to live Elvis, to the extent that he's humanized him."
In making Elvis, Luhrmann was intent on casting someone who could bring out the humanity of the singer, rather than playing a caricature or doing an imitation. He wasn't interested in a biopic so much as a grander story about American culture that uses Presley as a means of uncovering deeper truths.
"His life fits beautifully into three acts," Luhrmann said. "There's Elvis the punk, if you like, the original punk rocker, the rebel. Then there's Elvis the movie man, and that's when he is pop and family-friendly. And then there's '70s Elvis, which is epic. The Apocalypse Now of musicals is what I've joked about calling the movie — and that's the '70s period. It's so sprawling and it's beautiful, but it's powerful. It's a three-act pop-cultural opera."
Elvis hits theaters June 24.
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Austin Butler and Tom Hanks star in this musical biopic about the life of Elvis Presley, specifically his relationship with his manager Colonel Tom Parker.