Elvis' Olivia DeJonge on working with Tom Hanks: 'Incredible'

Olivia DeJonge sat down with Yahoo Lifestyle and revealed what it was like to work with Hollywood superstar Tom Hanks on Elvis.

Video transcript

- Congratulations on the film.


- I saw it last night.

OLIVIA DEJONGE: Thank you so much.

- How does it feel after-- you guys worked on the film for so long. With COVID and--

- Oh, yeah.

- --lockdowns, how does it feel to finally be seeing it with audiences?

OLIVIA DEJONGE: I mean, my God, there's been a lot of hurdles. So I think to finally have people watching it, to have people excited by it, to feel the excitement and the buzz, it's, yeah, a huge relief.

- I remember, like, when COVID first started happening and when Tom got it--


- --you were like, it's real. It's in Australia.

OLIVIA DEJONGE: Patient zero, I know.


OLIVIA DEJONGE: We were like, not Tom. If you're going to take anyone, please, not our beloved Tom Hanks.


OLIVIA DEJONGE: I remember. Yeah. It was crazy.

- That was like, it's actually real.

OLIVIA DEJONGE: I know. I remember we had, yeah, a rehearsal that day. We all had to go into--

- Oh, no.

OLIVIA DEJONGE: --lockdown, the first two weeks of isolation that we had experienced. Yeah, it was crazy.

- Oh, no. Tell me about the preparation for the role. Were you able to chat to Priscilla or Lisa Marie Presley at all beforehand?

OLIVIA DEJONGE: I mean, not during the preparation phase. For me, I kind of took that on more myself. And Baz was such a wealth of knowledge. I felt pretty safe within that.

Yeah, we got to touch base afterwards. And she came to Cannes with us, which was very, very exciting. So, yeah, it's been crazy.

- And what about hearing those reviews? Because both Priscilla and Lisa Marie have just had glowing reviews.


- That must feel so special.

OLIVIA DEJONGE: Yeah. I mean, it's a huge, huge relief, you know. I think that carrying this film on all of our conscious-- consciences?

- Yeah. [LAUGHS]

OLIVIA DEJONGE: You know what I mean-- for so long, I think the stress of how is it going to be received, but, particularly, how is the family going to receive it was heavy. And I think we all collectively took such a sigh of relief when we heard that. Yeah.

- Did they offer you any private words of congratulations?

OLIVIA DEJONGE: I mean, yeah, of course. You know, it was very special, I think to have Priscilla with us, especially in Cannes. It was so lovely to have her around and to have her support. So, yeah, it was beautiful.

- And what was it like, meeting Austin for the first time, and getting into character together, and things like that?

OLIVIA DEJONGE: For sure. I mean, we-- I remember the first day that we met. It was-- we all had lunch at Baz's. He had, like, this, sort of, cabana space that he set up in the middle of the studios on the Gold Coast.

And yeah, we had lunch. We talked about the roles. We talked about how we got there and, sort of, our experiences with the audition process and everything else. And yeah, I mean, we really hit it off and had a great time.

- And what about the first time you saw him in full makeup, he saw you in full makeup? What was that like?

OLIVIA DEJONGE: A huge pinch me moment, for sure. The whole build-up, I think, too, because we got shut down-- and then we weren't sure if we were all gonna come back. And it was a nightmare, and the world was in shambles.


OLIVIA DEJONGE: Yeah, I think to be sitting on set and just see these incredibly iconic people, sort of, in our interpretations of them, sort of, in the incredible space that Baz and Sam had created, it was, yeah, pretty spectacular and lots of pinch me moments.

- Yeah, for sure. And working with Tom Hanks, huge.


- What was that like?

OLIVIA DEJONGE: I mean. Tom's lovely, you know. I think he had, also, such a commitment to the role. He was in hair and makeup for so long, obviously, with all the prosthetics.

So to watch him transform was, like, incredible and held us all to such a high standard. Yeah, he's a really nice guy, super grounded, very, sort of, down to Earth. And to have him as one of the captains on the ship, sort of, yeah, he steered us all on the right course.

- And did he offer you any, like, career advice? You know, this film is going to blow up, you know, [INAUDIBLE]



OLIVIA DEJONGE: Man, we just had such a good time making the film. Like, we were so focused on the process of it and less about the outcome. I think it was such a unique experience that we had, shooting that, especially during a pandemic--

- Mm-hmm.

OLIVIA DEJONGE: --and especially not knowing was this movie going to be able to be released in theaters. You know, how is it all gonna end up? How is it gonna be received? We just had a great time with the process.

- Well, thank God it's been, like, a proper full release.

OLIVIA DEJONGE: I know. Thank God. Thank God.


OLIVIA DEJONGE: I mean, that's the thing about this movie, though, is it's such a cinema film.

- Yeah.

OLIVIA DEJONGE: It's a film that you have to see in a group of people, with a huge TV, a huge screen in front of you, incredible surround sound. Yeah, it's what's so special about this film. It's so immersive.

You can touch it. You can taste it. You can feel it.

- Yeah.

OLIVIA DEJONGE: You know, [? Mandy's ?] cinematography is delicious. Baz has just refined his vision. It's a cinema film.

- Yeah.

OLIVIA DEJONGE: I'm so glad that people are gonna be able to see it in the cinema.

- For sure. And you're quite young. Even, like, I don't know much-- I didn't know much about Elvis--

OLIVIA DEJONGE: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

- --into watching it--


- --last night. Were you, like, a fan? Was it something that you were like, I really have to do this?

OLIVIA DEJONGE: I mean, I think, for sure. I obviously knew who Elvis was. I grew up listening to his music. My parents would play his music all through the house when I was a kid. My Nana was a huge fan.

I think that, as well, knowing that Baz was gonna tell this story was another just incredible aspect of it. I think that Elvis' life was so incredibly diverse, and bedazzling, and fabulous that nobody else could tell the story the way that Baz wanted to wanted to tell it. So it was, yeah, very exciting.

- Austin was saying that it was kind of hard to shake off the role because it was such a long time that you guys were working on it.


- Was it similar for you?

OLIVIA DEJONGE: I mean, yes and no. I think that I definitely came away from the experience with a whole, like, myriad of lessons, of life lessons, of even just-- Priscilla had found a lot of strength and softness. And that was something that I, myself, hadn't really found myself identifying with.

So I think, for me, it was more a process of really wanting to take away these lessons with me. And yeah, I think maybe, for him, it was a little harder. He really threw himself into that.

- And what do you hope audiences take away from it?

OLIVIA DEJONGE: [INHALES] I just think that this movie is one of the best films I've seen in years. And I just really want people to go and see it because there's nothing like seeing a good film--

- Yeah.

OLIVIA DEJONGE: --let alone a film with such incredible storytelling, incredible performances. The way-- I just love Baz. I've always loved Baz's movies. But I think it's an experience to be had. It's a lesson--

There's a lot of lessons in this film. It's about a man who's constantly searching to be loved, rather than searching to give love, and how that's the root of a lot of suffering. And I think that's a huge life lesson for everybody.

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