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Aussie actress Olivia DeJonge reveals ‘scariest aspect’ about playing Priscilla in Elvis biopic

Portraying an iconic woman on film is a pressure unto itself. But to play the legendary Priscilla Presley, who is still living and breathing, was next level.

Aussie actress Olivia DeJonge was given the honour in the Baz Lurhmann-directed biopic, Elvis, playing the wife of the musical icon – and, she says, it was a role she was frightened to take on because Priscilla is still alive and well-respected.

“I think that was probably the most scariest aspect of it, knowing that,” the 24-year-old Melbourne-born star tells 9Honey.

READ MORE: Three generations of Elvis Presley family in history-making appearance

Priscilla Presley is portrayed by Aussie actress Olivia DeJonge in the biopic Elvis. (Getty)

“In those months post-editing, I was told film was forever. And so I knew that what I did, that was what she was going to see and there was nothing I can do to change it, even if I wanted to,” she says.

“I was very nervous, very excited and a bit scared. I knew I was about to do a bunch of work but I was excited to jump in. It was a bunch of emotions.” 

READ MORE: Love Stories: Elvis courted Priscilla Presley for eight years before they tied the knot

Priscilla Presley and Olivia DeJonge attend the photocall for Elvis during the Cannes Film Festival in 2022.
Priscilla Presley and Olivia DeJonge at the Cannes Film Festival in May. (Getty)

Helping to put her at ease, DeJonge didn’t meet Priscilla until after filming had wrapped, but she says the wife of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was “very supportive” throughout.

The actress met Priscilla briefly after filming but it wasn’t until the Cannes Film Festival in May – where the film was given a 12-minute standing ovation – that they got to really know each other while seated together at the festival.

“It was incredible just to have her there to have her support on the film,” DeJonge says. “I think she went above and beyond what any of us would have expected from anyone that was so close to Elvis. It was a huge pinch-me moment.”

Priscilla – who was married to Elvis at the height of his career from 1967 to 1973 – was also one of the first to publicly praise DeJonge for her portrayal.

The couple’s only child, daughter Lisa Marie Presley, has also voiced her approval of the film, and DeJonge is grateful for the support.

READ MORE: How Elvis Presley’s white jumpsuits changed how men dressed forever

Austin Butler and Olivia DeJonge play Elvis and Priscilla Presley in the biopic Elvis.
Austin Butler and Olivia DeJonge play Elvis and Priscilla Presley in the biopic Elvis. (Universal Pictures)

“There was so much love put into this project, so much care, so much respect for his legacy,” DeJonge says. “To have those closest to him love it, and also speak publicly about it. It was so incredibly touching.”

The movie also starred Hollywood veteran Tom Hanks and Austin Butler, who stepped onto the blue suede shoes of Elvis. And DeJonge was humbled to work with both actors. 

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Priscilla and Elvis Presley with baby daughter Lisa Marie.
Priscilla and Elvis Presley with baby daughter Lisa Marie. (Getty)

“To get in the ring with somebody like Austin, who is so committed to the role, it’s really, really special. It’s such a masterclass,” she says.

“And just knowing how successful Tom is and how well respected he is, and the fact he is still so grounded and so present and so giving and patient, I think that was such a lesson in and of itself.” 

The cast and crew were on location in the Gold Coast in 2020 to film the biopic just before the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the globe. Soon after, Hanks contracted the virus while filming and production was shut down.

Baz Luhrmann, Olivia DeJonge, Austin Butler and Tom Hanks attend the Sydney premiere of ELVIS at the State Theatre on June 05, 2022 in Sydney, Australia.
Director Baz Luhrmann, Olivia DeJonge, Austin Butler and Tom Hanks attend the Sydney premiere of Elvis on June 5. (Getty)

However, DeJonge still has fond memories of her time on set once filming resumed. 

“That experience of shooting something while the world seemingly feels like it’s on fire around you, it feels very insular,” she tells 9Honey.

“At times, it kind of felt like we were shooting an indie film. I know that sounds so silly, but we were on the Gold Coast, everything was shut down. It felt like it was this big yet small intimate family. It was a crazy, crazy experience.”

Elvis is in cinemas now.

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