Harry Styles is perpetually plagued by the burden of being too iconic. During a recent appearance on the Australian radio podcast Fitzy & Wippa, director Baz Luhrmann revealed that he ultimately passed on the pop musician for the lead role in Elvis, his first film in nearly a decade, because of the singer’s star status.
“Harry is a really talented actor. I would work on something with him,” Luhrmann said. “The real issue with Harry is, he’s Harry Styles. He’s already an icon.”
On the heels of one of the biggest pop releases of the year with his third studio album Harry’s House, Styles is gearing up for the release of two films this fall: Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling and Michael Grandage’s My Policeman — both of which cast him in lead roles. Paired with his previous appearance in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and a freshly-inked Marvel contract, Styles has had no shortage of opportunities on the big screen.
So why slip into the role of a rockstar for a film when you can just walk on stage at one of your own sold-out arena shows and live it yourself, glitzy outfits and all?
“Harry and I came to a place, genuinely I mean, he was just desperate to put the suit on and explore,” Luhrmann added. “He’s such a great spirit and I have nothing but great things to say about Harry Styles.”
While Styles was a strong contender for the role, Austin Butler brought a commitment and spiritual connection to the role Luhrmann says he couldn’t deny. Filming for Elvis wrapped over a year ago in March 2021 and the film is now set to arrive in theaters on June 23. Meanwhile, Butler has spent most of his on-camera interviews for the film’s press cycle slipping in and out of his Elvis Presley accent, still tethered to the world he so deeply immersed himself in for two years.
“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,” Luhrmann explained. “You know, we can talk about it now, he loses his mom at the same age that Elvis did. He sends a video to me of this thing and… It just happened like two years of non-stop living and breathing as Elvis. He’s now going through a sort of deprogramming thing because it’s been a long time since he’s known who he was.”