Australian director Baz Luhrmann says that now is not the moment to be resuming production on his untitled “Elvis” project. The film was halted since last week, when actor Tom Hanks was diagnosed with the corovavirus.
In a tweet on Friday afternoon Luhrmann said: “I’m sure it will come as no surprise that this is not the moment to be resuming production on the film. Please know that this is in now way a reflection our commitment to making the movie here in Queensland. In fact we are not even taking our sets down, simply locking up the creative space over the next few days.”
“I have spoken to the premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, and we all agree that right now, this is the time for people all over the world, from all walks of life, to be at home indoors, with their loved ones (washing our hands five time a day). All going well we have a passionate conviction to be back here on the Gold Coast, picking up where we left off as soon as the time is right. Baz.”
When that could possibly be was thrown into further doubt when Australia announced that it was effectively sealing its borders to all foreigners who are not permanent residents. The move takes affect from 9pm Friday. The country has more than 700 confirmed coronavirus cases, with the significant majority imported with returning travelers, or people in close contact with them.
Backed by Warner Bros., the film in advanced pre-production, with shooting set to have begun next week. Austin Butler is to play Presley, Maggie Gyllenhaal the star’s mother Gladys. Hanks is to play Col. Tom Parker, Presley’s all-controlling manager.
Luhrmann co-wrote the script with Craig Pearce. The movie covers the relationship between the veteran manager and the young singer, who came from dirt-poor origins to become an iconic star who changed the course of music. The project marks Luhrmann’s first film since his adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. He most recently worked on the Netflix series “The Get Down.”
Throughout his career, Presley talked about his devotion to his mother, constantly calling her his number one girl. The close relationship is said to have continued when the musician’s career took off and during Gladys’ bout of depression due to his time away from home.
The production was expected to employ 900 Queenslanders in behind-the-scenes roles, including set construction, catering and transportation, and inject more than $105 million into the local economy, Palaszczuk announced last May when it was announced that Queensland and the Village Roadshow Studios, on the Gold Coast, had secured the film to shoot in the territory.
Hanks revealed on March 12 that he and his wife Rita had tested positive for the coronavirus. They were admitted to hospital and have since been released into self-isolation in an apartment. On Wednesday Hanks tweeted that the pair remain stable and cheerful, living a quarantine period playing cards, doing the laundry and working a Corona typewriter.