exit interview

Baz Luhrmann Is the Stanley Kubrick of Confetti

The Elvis director’s opulent movies aren’t for everyone, and he’s okay with that.

“You’re coming with us or you’re not,” Baz Luhrmann says of his movies. “And some people do leave the theater and go, I don’t know what this shit is. I’m out!” Photo: Warner Bros.
“You’re coming with us or you’re not,” Baz Luhrmann says of his movies. “And some people do leave the theater and go, I don’t know what this shit is. I’m out!” Photo: Warner Bros.
“You’re coming with us or you’re not,” Baz Luhrmann says of his movies. “And some people do leave the theater and go, I don’t know what this shit is. I’m out!” Photo: Warner Bros.

Baz Luhrmann knows how to make an entrance. I am sitting in a cavernous corner conference room at Warner Bros. Pictures’ office in New York City when I hear a soft, distant Australian-accented voice say, “You know, when we began shooting Elvis, it was in the pandemic.” The director glides into the space, seemingly out of nowhere and looking contemplative as Hamlet, and makes his way slowly toward some picture windows overlooking the newly redeveloped Hudson Yards neighborhood. Luhrmann’s hair is perfect. He’s wearing a gray jacket, dark jeans, and unblemished black hiking boots, with a ring with the initials “EP” (for Elvis Presley, naturally) on his finger and the letters “TCB” (Elvis’s motto was “taking care of business”) hanging from a chain around his neck. I rise from my chair and head over to stand next to the filmmaker responsible for Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, and Moulin Rouge!, who is telling me — or maybe the people of Manhattan — how the production of Elvis had to shut down for five months in 2020 after Tom Hanks contracted COVID-19. When production resumed, Luhrmann decided the death of Hanks’s character — Presley’s manager, the mythic and unreliable Colonel Tom Parker — would jump-start the film.

Where other biopics might have thrust audiences into a more recognizable moment — for instance, the 1954 broadcast of the Louisiana Hayride radio show in Shreveport, Louisiana, where Parker first discovered Presley — Luhrmann chose and then quickly chucked this as his opening. The director of so many mythic, glitzy, overstuffed melodramas opted for a framing device of Shakespearean cheekiness, then filled the remaining movie with his stylistic trademarks: strobe-flash editing, literary allusions, primal pathos, a soundtrack that fuses period-appropriate songs with ones that weren’t released until most of the people in the story were dead. Luhrmann’s style annoys and infuriates some viewers — and a good many critics — but has grown steadily popular over the decades. His previous film, the 2013 The Great Gatsby, became the first Luhrmann film to gross more than $100 million domestically, topping out at three and a half times that amount internationally. To date, Elvis has made $286 million globally. That, combined with Austin Butler’s acclaimed lead performance and the standout costuming of Catherine Martin (Luhrmann’s wife, who already won an Oscar for her work on Moulin Rouge!), makes it a contender for year-end awards, which is why the director is talking about Elvis all over again, months after the movie’s theatrical release.

Well — that and the fact that if Luhrmann is at rest, he’s at the mercy of his prismatic and ceaseless imagination. “My whole life’s about trying to contain the chaos of my mind,” he says.

I guess it was around the time that Moulin Rouge! came out that there were starting to be complaints about your editing style: It’s too fast. There’s too much cutting, too many angles.
Actually, Strictly Ballroom had that same complaint.

Too much cutting in the musical numbers?
And too many close-ups.

I confess that when I watch your films, the editing makes me think, This is a guy who wants to be everywhere at once
My vibe, yeah.

How do you get audiences to come along with you while you try to do that?
The idea of that — the pacing and the editing and all of that — is to make you kind of lean forward and go, I’ve got to work here as an audience member. I can’t just sit back and eat my popcorn. I need to absorb this information. The idea behind my intensity of attack on the audience is to get across that I am not doing a traditional thing, which is quietly lulling you and sneaking up on you.

What are some nontraditional things that you do?
I have come up with — not a formula, but a construct. In all of my films I have what I call “signing the contract.”

A contract between characters?
Between the movie and the audience. The movie offers the audience a contract, and the audience either accepts the contract or not.

What are some contract-signing moments in your films?
In Strictly Ballroom it’s when Ken Railings comes in and says, “Pam Shortt’s broken both her legs, and I want to dance with you,” and it’s ridiculous. In Moulin Rouge!, the signing of the contract is when they dance to “Your Song” and they kiss, and then they have the whole farce about “Spectacular, Spectacular,” and at the end of that, he goes, “Generally, I like it.” In Romeo + Juliet, it’s, “Now, where’s Romeo?” And he’s down on the beach.

With Elvis, there’s two points like that, just after the pink-suit moment, and then again when Elvis and the colonel meet. After that, you’re into the style of the film or you’re not. You’re coming with us or you’re not. And some people do leave the theater and go, I don’t know what this shit is. I’m out!

A pink-suit moment. Photo: Warner Bros.

You drastically mix modes in your films, in ways that perhaps older movies might. If you watch a John Ford film, for example, there’s a serious, at times sorrowful drama, and then the next scene might be slapstick.
Shakespeare, too — he’ll do that! He’ll mix high comedy and broad comedy, and get you up there so that he can hit you in the guts with psychological drama. He flips the coin all the time. My upbringing was in a very isolated place where we only had one black-and-white television. My diet was old movies. I think I skipped a generation and I was programmed by films like Citizen Kane and The Red Shoes. Those old movies were not considered high art in the ’70s — or, you know, there was only a little bit of that happening. It was programming that was sort of dumped out on regional television. So my style comes from a combination of being extremely classical and old-fashioned, but also trying to find an extremely modern way of languaging that. I always make my movies for the future, not for the present. I want them to have relevance later.

How do you think that’s turning out for you?
Romeo + Juliet is still screened. Moulin Rouge! is still going strong as a theater show, which is funny because Moulin Rouge! is a movie which, in its DNA, was born of theatrical cinema.

You keep moving between cinema and theater. To what extent are the skills that are specifically required for each discipline applicable in both? 
A lot of the filmmakers I loved growing up, directors like Ingmar Bergman or Orson Welles — those guys were in theater, and they were in film, you know? When that sort of question comes up with young actors or practitioners or whoever I’m working with, I say, “Well, actually, whatever you achieve onstage, you can achieve in a movie.”

And also the reverse?

Can you give us an example?
A shot in a film of Shakespeare would be the actor turning to the side [turns his face into a profile and frames it with his hands, from forehead to chin] and going, “I see the army coming across.” A close-up. And then we cut to a wide shot of the army coming across.

How would you do a close-up on the stage?
If you’re standing on a stage, you might give me a close-up like this. [He makes direct eye contact, very slightly lowers his head, and remains perfectly still for two seconds.] You, the actor, bring the audience in closer.

Now, of course, I might use lighting to help you, the actor, with your close-up. [He turns into profile again, raises his hands over his head in the shape of a stage light with his hands representing fully opened “barn doors,” then constricts his hands and fingers to form an iris, then indicates how the resulting narrow cone of light would illuminate only the middle section of his face.]

But what’s important in theater is that you, the actor, give me a close-up. And when you, the actor, move your eyes around the stage, it’s similar to a film director moving a camera around a scene. The audience looks wherever the actor is looking.

So in theater, the actor is the camera? And in cinema, the camera is the actor?
Something like that. It’s all about where we want the collective eye to go.

Theatricality is central to most of your movies. There are performers and artists and writers in them, and people who want to be those things but are frustrated because they can’t be. And there are impresarios and other people who are promoting them and trying to profit off of them. 
I have a running gag, which is that you could populate all of these movies with the same characters. All-powerful Barry Fife in Strictly Ballroom is Zidler in Moulin Rouge!, and the colonel in Elvis. There’s always a Colonel Tom Parker. And there’s always a Christian in Moulin Rouge! — a writer or a pure soul. Christian is an Orpheus character: somewhat gifted, looking for ideal, perfect love, and he descends into the underworld. And then there’s Satine. She is the muse and the idol and the perfect love.

Now what’s interesting about Elvis is that the romance-relationship with Priscilla is important, but the real love is not even between the colonel and Elvis (that relationship is more like Zidler with Satine). The real relationship in Elvis is with the audience. Elvis’s true love — this is what the colonel proposes to him — is that the only love that he can really rely on is the one that comes across the footlights, and it’s so powerful that everything else is relegated.

Austin Butler as Elvis in close-up. Photo: Warner Bros.

The movie is not what I expected from an Elvis biopic. I described it to friends as The Last Temptation of Elvis. It’s as if Satan is telling the story of Christ and detailing the architecture of his downfall.
You’re on the right track. Elvis Presley has always sat in my mind since childhood. When I was ballroom dancing, I did it to “Burning Love.” But I didn’t set out through fandom to do Elvis. I like to look at Shakespeare. He continually takes historical figures and uses them to explore a larger idea.

Another example, and certainly the best one for me, is Amadeus. Peter Shaffer wrote the play. It’s historically researched very well, but there’s a preposterous conceit at the center of it. Salieri did exist, Salieri was jealous. Did Salieri really commission Mozart to write a requiem for his father to send him to his grave? Probably not. But you need a preposterous conceit to actually force a compression device and allow you to explore the larger idea.

What is the larger idea of Elvis?
I think it’s the great tragic American opera. And I don’t just mean opera as in vocals. Operas tend to be vast. They have big internal emotions, and they speak to a larger truth, usually about worlds. In this film, there’s the personal journey of Elvis Presley, but probably more than any other character in popular culture he reflects the American journey: the potential of America in the ’50s. There’s this kind of beautiful Camelot moment with Kennedy, lost somewhat in the purple haze of Vietnam. When Kennedy gets shot, the disillusionment begins, and the disintegration begins. The death of Martin Luther King Jr., the drugs and malaise of the ’70s.

Within all that, there’s this kid from dust who happens to be born in a certain place, at a certain time, in certain circumstances, and who becomes the cipher for the whole generation. He finds himself growing up in one of the few white houses in a Black community. He finds himself on the very edge of postwar America where the parents have all been away working in war factories or fighting. If the previous generation has a war, the youth of the next generation are like, Where’s my war? Like Marlon Brando says in The Wild One, when he’s asked, “What are you rebelling against?”: “Whaddya got?” Elvis is amongst all that. Even though he’s a really shy, kind of polite, sweet spirit, he just organically, inherently, represents the frustration of youth: of shaking off authority, of being edgy, of looking for their war.

And you cannot leave Colonel Tom Parker out of the equation, because if Elvis is the soul of that journey, the colonel is the sell. The time Colonel Tom came into was the time America started moving directly toward populism. Parker — who was actually never a colonel, never Tom, never Parker — represents one of the great themes of the American ethos, and that is the Sell. Roll up, roll up! The carnival barker. Put your brand on things. Parker doesn’t know anything about music, but when he sees Elvis’s effect on the audience, he goes, “That’s the greatest carnival act I’ve ever seen.” Elvis and the colonel come together as an atomic explosion.

So that’s when I thought I had a way in, because any storytelling, whether it’s a documentary or not, it’s just someone’s point of view. Why I think it speaks to now is because we’ve been through a period where what is much more important than making something genuine and authentic and new and responding to the moment is to brand it, and sell it, you know?

Do you try to have all or most of a movie like Elvis in your head before you set foot on the set, so that the rest becomes an engineering problem: How do we execute this? Because the way you intertwine two or more overlapping pieces of music with a story that jumps around geographically and in time seems enormously complicated. And you don’t seem like a director who wings it on set and hopes it works in the editing room.
I love what you said: It’s fundamentally an engineering job. If you look at Strictly Ballroom, even — I wasn’t allowed to shoot two feet more than I had budgeted for. I was shooting a ratio of 1:2 or something stupid, so it all had to be engineered. I had to know exactly what the film was going to be.

You probably had to rehearse the hell out of everything, not just the dance numbers.
Everything. Everything. Everything. Same thing for Elvis. Austin Butler did not leave the character for two years. And yet the film has got a sense of play and chaos about it, because the audience doesn’t want to see you work! They want to play. That’s why they call it a play. It’s a screenplay. We are players. So my job in the creative process is to keep fear away. How do I get the actors to go out on that limb? By keeping fear outside the door and saying, “You can’t fail.”

In your way, you’re as much of an obsessive as Stanley Kubrick. 
I’m probably the Stanley Kubrick of confetti. I don’t put myself in the same gauge as Stanley. But I’ll tell you something. Stanley, Wes Anderson, me, Quentin Tarantino — we all have our own language. And you don’t have a language unless you know how to write in it.

Another thing that a lot of truly distinctive filmmakers have in common is that at first, their trademark elements make you ask, “Are they kidding?” David Lynch is another one like that. He represents innocence so straightforwardly that the viewer may mistakenly wonder if he’s mocking the idea of goodness. 
For sure. Is he serious? People thought that with Andy Warhol. Is he taking the piss out of us? Campbell Soup cans, seriously? A lot of that comes back to the shock of the new. The new, the different, is never going to come wrapped up in an easy-to-understand package. I mean, I’m not new anymore, I’m 60. But back in the Strictly Ballroom days, who would think that little film would cause such a ruckus critically? It was like I had burned the tenets of the cinema in my basement or something.

Have you made peace with the idea that some people are always going to find your approach to be exhausting or alienating or just too much? Any time your name comes up you hear the same complaints: He’s exhausting. He cuts too fast. His films are too hyper.
It’s not that I try to set out to tell stories in a way which upsets a lot of people. But I’m not swimming between the flags, as we say in Australia. I don’t really walk around with a top hat and a cane and all that, but I tell the story as if I do. The most important thing for me is not the affection of commentators, as much as I respect them — and I really do — or studio heads. It’s the singular relationship with the audience.

George Lucas saw The Great Gatsby and said, “The thing that you do is you create worlds” — and this is a great phrase — “with an immaculate reality.” Meaning that it doesn’t matter that the audience understands the rules on the outside, only that on the inside, the reality is immaculate. You can’t just arbitrarily do a thing because you feel like it. The reality has got to be so immaculate that within it, the audience will buy into the world. You’ve entered sci-fi, meaning you’ve entered another world, an off-planet world, even though it’s set in this world.

It’s also Prospero’s Island, if you want to take it back to Shakespeare.
That’s exactly right. You take it back to Prospero’s Island — which, by the way, is a great metaphor for Australia. Shakespeare always has both realistic human beings and a spirit world. He creates a parallel universe that we can reflect ourselves in, but that is distant enough for us to be used as a mirror for us to see the human condition.

Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker. Photo: Warner Bros.

Can we talk about the character of Colonel Tom Parker and Tom Hanks’s performance?  
People are a bit discombobulated by it. At best, they’re mixed.

It’s an old Hollywood character-actor performance, like Joseph Cotten in Citizen Kane when he’s wearing old-age makeup. But it seems to fit the tone of the movie.
And also the colonel himself. He was so brilliant at pulling the wool over people’s eyes. He called that “snowing.” He was the Chief Potentate of the Snowmen’s League, which I didn’t have time to go into in the film. It was a real thing. LBJ was a member of the Snowmen’s League. He was entered into it by Colonel Tom Parker! It was free to get in, but it cost $100,000 to get out. There was a Snowmen’s Rulebook. He gave you the rulebook, and there was nothing in the pages. Tom and I talked about all this.

Another thing that nobody knows about the colonel is that after Elvis passed, he came to the estate and threatened to do his own exhibition about Elvis. Eventually he needed money so much that he just sold all his artifacts to the estate. Amidst the stuff was a tape recorder. The colonel was crazy about taping himself, so I’ve got all these audio recordings of the colonel. He had all these different wackadoo voices because, of course, he’d been hiding his Dutch accent all his life. So Tom had to look at all of that. Tom’s voice and accent are accurate to the colonel.

There’s a coldness in the colonel. We don’t really know why he ran. We know that he comes to America, and we know that he reinvents himself. We know that he has a family — he has a mother — and there doesn’t seem to be any chagrin between them. But he goes out of his way to disappear, to transform himself. There was an amnesty for being an illegal immigrant. He could easily have taken it. One reason he overpaid in tax is that he absolutely did not want to leave the country. Absolutely his No. 1 focus was never traveling outside of the United States. The colonel left so much money on the table by not letting Elvis tour internationally.

Because of the way the story is framed, I struggle with whether the awe and love that the colonel projects toward Elvis is genuine, or if he’s skillfully manipulating him — and the viewer as well.
Both. Despots are like that. When the colonel expresses love for Elvis, he really loves Elvis, in that moment. But he’s also capable, right in that same moment, of grafting on the qualities of being Elvis’s mother, solidifying his control, separating him from those who might protect him. His behavior is both conscious and unconscious.

In all of your films to certain degrees, but particularly Moulin Rouge! and Elvis, I feel there is an energy that is being transmitted between the characters when they are experiencing positive emotions or trying to do good things for each other, or for the community. The camera soars during those moments. 
It exalts.

And it does not seem like this is an incidental or random touch. You have to set those shots up. You have to know why you’re doing them.  
Elvis in this film is a flawed human being, but also an extraordinary human being — but whatever you say about Elvis, what is absolutely irrefutable is that he’s a deeply spiritual man. And that comes from, I think, the early involvement with the church. That’s why I make gospel music the spine of the whole movie. He only ever won a Grammy for gospel.

You kind of bring it full circle in the final third of the movie, when he goes to Las Vegas. Essentially he has his residency in hell, arranged by Colonel Tom Parker. And yet paradoxically, that’s the place that is most like a church for Elvis. He’s the pastor.
It’s a cathedral.

He’s in a cathedral, he’s the pastor, and he gives the sermons and he’s the main attraction, and his congregation is coming to see him.
Couldn’t be clearer!

What was it about Austin Butler that made you go, “That’s my Elvis”? 
I got sent this strange video of this young guy, and he’s in a bathrobe and he’s singing “Unchained Melody” and he’s crying and then he walks off-camera. I’m like, Okay, you’ve got my attention. Turns out it’s by this young guy called Austin Butler. He lost his mother at the same age Elvis did — a deeply traumatic thing for him. And apparently he sent in another video earlier to audition for Elvis. But he woke up in a nightmare thinking that he had done a terrible audition, and he was thinking about his mother, and he thought, What if I sing “Unchained Melody” to Mom? He goes downstairs in the middle of the night with an iPhone and he records himself doing it. And his agent, James, said, “You’ve got to send it in,” and he does.

So then when Austin comes to meet with me, he walks up the stairs and honestly, I thought, Interesting, intriguing. I remember asking maybe a month later, “Where’s he from in the South?” I was told, “He’s from Anaheim, actually.” I never heard him speak in his own voice until just recently.

But it wasn’t that I went, “Bang, he’s it.”

He’s talked about what he describes as a five-month audition. What was that about?
I had to get him to a point where the studio would say yes to him, because the idea of casting a relative unknown was a big deal to them. But also, I was just training Austin to do all the homework and also not to do an impersonation: to mix Austin and Elvis in an interpretation of the spirit. The thing is, no matter how similar the build of the real person and the actor playing them — and Austin is a neat six feet, quite similar to Elvis — they’re not exact, visible copies. So what you’ve got to do is find the language that brings together Austin and Elvis. That’s what you have to create.

For all of my confetti drops, I come from an acting background. My No. 1 devotion is always to performers above and beyond everything else, because when the cameras roll, the whole thing is resting on the actors’ shoulders. No matter what I do, it’s resting on their shoulders. And history will look back and understand the weight that rested on this young man’s shoulders. Not only did Austin have to sing, dance, and look like Elvis, but he had to also produce intimate, emotional, complex acting scenes. And then on top of all of that, he had to have the whole world going, “You’re definitely going to fail.” I mean, the deafening chorus of “you’re gonna fail” was really, really loud, and he managed to ignore it.

And then he had to face a moment where the film went away because of COVID. Like, we were over. And instead of going home to L.A., he said, “I’m staying here in Memphis and I’m going to double down. It’s going to come back, I know it.” And he would not let it go. We can all go, “Oh, how much fun, look at how much they get paid, or the glamour,” but no one but an actor knows what it’s like to be spiritually naked in front of cameras with 300 people looking at you.

How would you describe Elvis’s sense of style?
He was such a Bowerbird — a Bowerbird is an Australian bird who collects different blue objects. What C.M. [Catherine Martin] and I call the Elvis Decorative Aesthetic is, he would take different things, like a truck driver’s sideburns when he was a kid, or Tony Curtis’s coif, or Captain Marvel Jr.’s side part, or Little Richard’s pink suit, and then he would gel that all and filter it through his own setting. Now, some of his clothes were beautifully made. When you go to the archives there are, in fact, some Gucci pieces from the ’70s. But other items are just stuff that Elvis liked. You know those famous Elvis sunglasses, the metallic ones with the holes in the side? They were just something he saw at a roadside gas station. He adapted those to become his sunglasses.

Are there any actual objects from Elvis’s life in the film?
People always want to give you real objects and say, “Elvis had this. Put it in the movie,” right? But there are two problems with that. One is, we know what happens in the act of making a movie. The other problem is — well, let me tell you a story. Back in the day when we did Moulin Rouge!, we did our own version of a Cartier diamond necklace for Nicole Kidman. See, in those days, you couldn’t make something sparkle on film like real diamonds. You needed real diamonds. So that necklace is real. It’s worth $2.5 million. The problem is, if you bring something of real value on set, you need two security guards standing by at all times. Luckily, now you can just do the sparkle in post.

How do you research Elvis’s jumpsuits?
You go to the jumpsuit museum at Graceland — it’s really well done. And that’s where the brilliance of C.M. comes in. Her level of understanding, craft, technicality, history, research — in the way that I live the movie, she lives costumes.

You know, that ’68 special costume was made out of horse leather, and Elvis sweated so much that they had to cut him out of it because it swelled? We did not use that original leather jumpsuit. And we didn’t have time to cut Austin out of a horse-leather jumpsuit every time we did a take. So C.M. and her team got with the original manufacturers of the jumpsuit. They worked in collaboration. Things like that are done thread by thread, decoration by decoration: absolute copies.

What do you say to viewers who object that certain events depicted in the film didn’t happen, or happened some other way?
I’m not here to defend myself against people who are like, “Oh, you made that up.” I’m a research nut bag. I have a great research team, and I’ve got an office in Graceland. Look how long it takes me to make a movie! But I find a way of coding all of that research under the story.

Take that 30-second sequence during the Hayride scene where Elvis walks on the stage and wriggles around. I could show you about four historical references that are hidden inside that one scene. It’s layered. The layers are designed so that you can see the movie over and over again.

Can you give us an example?
What we have Tom Parker say about Elvis when he first sees him perform — “I cannot overstate how strange he looked” — is what Buddy Holly actually said when he first met Elvis. “I hope they don’t hurt my baby” is what Elvis’s mother Gladys said after Elvis got scratched backstage down in, I think, in Fort Lauderdale, but we put it in this scene instead. The wriggling thing where the women burst into screams actually comes from the first time he performed on the bandshell.

But I didn’t put those references in there to be Easter eggs. I put them in there because they helped me. What I’m saying is, I become so saturated with the facts that then one interprets. Because in the end, even the best, most detailed biographical drama is an interpretation.

To what degree is Elvis about you?
It’s everything I’m about. Elvis’s documentary is called The Searcher. I think somehow, also, I’m probably searching. I mean, if you want to get analytical about it, coming from a broken home in the middle of nowhere, one’s always trying to — like, do what Elvis was trying to do, you know? Always trying to make it good. I’m always moving forward. I think the search is actually about not being constrained.

Strictly Ballroom is a 1992 Australian romantic comedy about the merciless world of competitive dancing, directed and co-written by Baz Luhrmann as his feature debut. It is based on Luhrmann’s own experiences studying ballroom dancing as a child, and is the first in his “Red Curtain Trilogy,” also including 1996’s Romeo + Juliet and 2001’s Moulin Rouge! In the film, this is when Elvis buys his first suit at a Beale Street men’s shop in Memphis. Luhrmann’s mother worked as a ballroom-dance teacher when he was a teen. Roger Ebert said this in his review of the film: “Luhrmann, like many first-time directors, is intoxicated with the possibilities of the camera. He uses too many wide-angle shots, in which the characters look like blowfish mugging for the lens, and too many story lines, until we worry we may have lost track of something, but what works is an exuberance that cannot be faked.” Luhrmann adapted F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel in 2013. The film starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby. Luhrmann wouldn’t make another feature film until Elvis. Prospero is a sorcerer in William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. He is exiled to an island, where he uses his powers to control the weather and rule magical creatures. In the end, he drowns his spellbooks and renounces magic. The concert event Singer Presents … Elvis is commonly referred to as the “’68 Comeback Special.” It aired on NBC on December 3, 1968, and marked Presley’s return to live performance after seven years of focusing on film work. During the research phase of Elvis, Luhrmann occupied an office at Graceland, where he conducted most of the prerelease press interviews with Elvis’s famous suits hanging in the background. Elvis was Luhrmann’s first film in nine years, the last being The Great Gatsby. The Overton Park Bandshell in Memphis, where Elvis performed in 1954.
Baz Luhrmann Is the Stanley Kubrick of Confetti