Entertainment

Coppola’s Priscilla comes just a year after Luhrmann’s Elvis – but tells a very different story

A year after the release of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, Sofia Coppola is telling Presley’s side of her story with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

A 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu first met 24-year-old Elvis at a party in West Germany in 1959.

She was in school but Elvis had already become a superstar and was stationed in Germany for his military service.

Adapted from Priscilla’s 1985 memoir, Elvis and Me: The True Story of the Love Between Priscilla Presley and the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, the film showcases the unseen story of their relationship.

Sofia Coppola met with Priscilla – who is credited as an executive producer for the film – at her home to speak about her life with her ex-husband.

“All the details really kind of suck you in,” Coppola said but added that bringing a film based on real events to the screen has certain challenges.

“Because the story is so personal, I don’t want to pry too much, but I have to ask personal questions. So it’s always a balance of trying to respect her privacy and kind of go by her guide.”

More on Elvis Presley

Priscilla stars Cailee Spaeny and Saltburn’s Jacob Elordi. Spaeny has already been nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance.

Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Pic: Sabrina Lantos
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Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Pic: Sabrina Lantos

The 25-year-old actress says she grew up going to Graceland – the home of Elvis – so meeting Priscilla was “magic” but there was pressure taking on a role based on her life.

“There’s a moral component to it and before anything, before the movie itself, you want to make sure they [Priscilla and her family] feel safe and that we’re representing them and their life and their journey,” she said.

“It was really something that I’ll take with me forever.”

Spaeny watched the film for the first time alongside Priscilla at the Venice Film Festival – describing the moment as “terrifying but rewarding”.

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Cailee Spaeny on portraying Priscilla

The actress won the Volpi Cup for best actress at the festival and says Priscilla “was really moved and was really happy with how the film turned out”.

The film had faced some criticism from Priscilla and Elvis’s daughter Lisa-Marie before her death in January 2023.

Variety reported that Lisa-Marie had written to Sofia Coppola about the film complaining that the script made her father out to be “a predator and manipulative”.

Jacob Elordi as Elvis and Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Pic: Ken Woroner
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Pic: Philippe Le Sourd

Coppola told Presley that her father is depicted with “sensitivity and complexity”.

Priscilla had a relatively low budget of $20m (£15.7m) – a fraction of the $85m (£66m) budget for Luhrmann‘s Elvis.

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Coppola says there’s so much love for independent films but they’re “fragile and they need all the support that we can give them”.

“There’s algorithms and companies, and you know, it’s safer to do stories we’ve already seen. And so I think films that have new perspectives and are unique stories need all the support,” she said.

Priscilla is in cinemas on 1 January.

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