Harry Styles’s film career is set to explode later this year thanks to roles in films such as “Don’t Worry Darling” and “My Policeman,” but the pop star would’ve had an even bigger movie debut in 2022 had he nabbed the starring role in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis.” Styles was a serious contender to play Elvis Presley, but Luhrmann opted to cast Austin Butler instead. The filmmaker recently opened up to to the Australian radio podcast “Fitzy & Wippa” (via Uproxx) about why he rejected Styles.
“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.”
Luhrmann continued, “The thing about Austin was that he will tell you himself, I didn’t pick him: It’s as if he was drawn, like the role drew him in, because he was almost born to play it. You know, we can talk about it now, he like loses his mom at the same age that Elvis did. He sends a video to me with this thing and… He just happened like two years non-stop living and breathing as Elvis. He’s now going through a sort of, it’s like, deprogramming thing because he’s been a long time since he’s known who he was.”
Butler sent Luhrmann an audition tape that featured him singing a broken down version of “Unchained Melody,” which helped seal the deal in the actor’s favor. Butler was so in character during the making of “Elvis” that he was hospitalized the day after filming ended because of a virus that simulated appendicitis. Butler was left bedridden for one week.
“The next day [after filming wrapped] I woke up at four in the morning with excruciating pain, and I was rushed to the hospital,” Butler told GQ last month. “My body just started shutting down the day after I finished ‘Elvis.’”
Butler has earned rave reviews for his “Elvis” performance, which earned a 12-minute standing ovation at its Cannes Film Festival world premiere. Warner Bros. is opening the music drama in U.S. theaters on June 24.