It’s been a tough year for Priscilla Presley. Now, her life is hitting the big screen
Based on Priscilla Presley’s 1985 memoir ‘Elvis and Me,’ ‘Priscilla,’ directed by Sofia Coppola, explores the couple’s relationship, which began when Elvis was stationed in Germany in 1959
In Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis,” viewers got a glimpse of the tumultuous relationship between Elvis Presley and his longtime manager, Colonel Tom Parker. With an $85 million budget, the 2022 film explored Elvis’ rise to stardom and garnered eight Oscar nominations (although it didn’t end up winning for any of those nominations).
Sofia Coppola told The Hollywood Reporter she was developing her own movie about the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll — one with a substantially lower budget of under $20 million — when she learned about Luhrmann’s film. But the discovery didn’t dissuade her from the project — in fact, it intensified her desire to see it through.
With the cinematic spotlight already on Elvis, Coppola has offered viewers another glimpse of his life — this time through the eyes of the singer’s ex-wife, Priscilla Presley.
“Priscilla” premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 4 and earned a 7-minute standing ovation, Variety reported.
What is ‘Priscilla’ movie about?
Based on Priscilla Presley’s 1985 memoir “Elvis and Me,” “Priscilla,” directed by Coppola, explores the couple’s relationship, which began when Elvis was stationed in Germany in 1959. Priscilla Presley was 14 and Elvis was 24.
It’s a part of Elvis’ life that wasn’t featured as prominently in Luhrmann’s film, Coppola said.
“I loved how Baz (Luhrmann) approached his story in a very collage-y way, but I’m glad it didn’t go into much of Priscilla’s story because now I can really dive deep,” the director previously told Collider. “ ... Priscilla is such a minor character in that film, so I never felt like I was treading on the same territory.”
Coppola, who in 2006’s “Marie Antoinette” chronicled the teenage years of France’s queen, said Priscilla Presley’s memoir resonated with her more deeply than she had anticipated.
“I was struck by how much I connected with it emotionally,” Coppola, who is the daughter of renowned director Francis Ford Coppola, told The Hollywood Reporter. “I thought it was just going to be a fun adventure, and I was surprised by how relatable her story was.”
“I know from my family what it’s like to be inside a show business family,” she continued. “I know that growing up, people are looking at you in a different way. And also living in a house with my dad, this big personality, a great artist and a lot of our life revolving around that. And seeing my mom’s life, how she was trying to find her way within his, I could relate to that.”
In addition to the storyline, “Priscilla,” which is rated R for drug use and some language, has at least one another major difference from “Elvis”: the absence of the singer’s music. Coppola told The Hollywood Reporter that Elvis Presley Enterprises rejected her request to include Elvis’ music in the film.
“They don’t like projects that they haven’t originated, and they’re protective of their brand,” she said. “But that made us be more creative.”
The film stars Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla and Jacob Elordi, known for his roles in “Euphoria” and the Netflix trilogy “The Kissing Booth,” as Elvis. The film has a theatrical release set for Oct. 27.
“I’m so nervous because it’s my life,” Priscilla Presley told The Hollywood Reporter. “The people who are watching, they’re living it with you, and you hope and pray that they get it. They get your feelings, your hurts, your sensitivity.”
The battle over Lisa Marie Presley’s estate, explained
The film comes during somewhat of a challenging time for Priscilla Presley, whose daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, died earlier this year at the age of 54. Following Lisa Marie’s death, a legal dispute ensued between Priscilla Presley and her granddaughter, actress Riley Keough.
Lisa Marie inherited her father’s estate on her 25th birthday, in 1993, Business Insider reported. Following her death, it was discovered that an amendment had been made to the will in 2016, removing Priscilla Presley and her former business manager as co-trustees. Instead, Lisa Marie’s oldest children, Keough and her brother, Benjamin Keough, were listed as new co-trustees. Benjamin Keough died in 2020, leaving his sister as the sole trustee.
Priscilla Presley reportedly doubted the legitimacy of the amendment, noting that her name was spelled wrong. She also questioned Lisa Marie’s signature, per Business Insider. The document was never notarized, The Los Angeles Times reported.
But Priscilla Presley and Keough reached a settlement in May, with Keough becoming the sole trustee, per People. The settlement reportedly involved Keough paying her grandmother $1.4 million, according to People.
“I want to make clear that there was never any lawsuit filed against my beloved granddaughter,” Priscilla Presley said in a statement to USA Today. “As a family, we are pleased that we resolved this together.”
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Keough praised her grandmother for her role in transforming Graceland into a tourist destination.
“Things with Grandma will be happy,” Keough told the magazine. “They’ve never not been happy. ... She’s a beautiful woman, and she was a huge part of creating my grandfather’s legacy and Graceland. It’s very important to her. He was the love of her life. Anything that would suggest otherwise in the press makes me sad because, at the end of the day, all she wants is to love and protect Graceland and the Presley family and the legacy. That’s her whole life.”