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EXCLUSIVE: Olivia DeJonge on Tom Hanks' Elvis 'transformation'

·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·4-min read
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Baz Luhrmann's Elvis was one of the first Australian productions to be rocked by Covid-19 in 2020 when Hollywood star Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson tested positive for the virus in March, causing the film to be shut down for two weeks.

Speaking with Yahoo Lifestyle, ahead of the film's official release later this month, Olivia DeJonge, who plays Priscilla Presley opposite Austin Butler as Elvis, revealed what it was like when Tom shut down production.

Olivia DeJonge and Tom Hanks
Olivia DeJonge sat down with Yahoo Lifestyle and shared what it was like working with Hollywood superstar Tom Hanks. Photo: Getty

Olivia jokingly referred to Tom as "patient zero", adding, "We were like, 'Not Tom. If you're going to take anyone please not our beloved Tom Hanks!'"

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She continued, "I remember we had a rehearsal that day, we all had to go into lockdown – the first two weeks of isolation that we had experienced. Yeah, it was crazy."

Tom undergoes quite the transformation in the film with prosthetics and hair and makeup, with Olivia describing it as "incredible".

Tom Hanks in Elvis
Tom undergoes quite the transformation in the film with prosthetics and hair and makeup, with Olivia describing it as "incredible". Photo: Supplied
Austin Butler, Helen Thompson, Tom Hanks, and Richard Roxburgh in Elvis
Tom looks very different in the film, pictured here with Austin Butler, Helen Thompson and Richard Roxburgh. Photo: Supplied

She said, "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 [he] held us all to such a high standard."

The actress added, "He's a really nice guy, super grounded, very down to earth and to have him as one of the captains on the ship, sort of, he always steered us all on the right course."

'Huge relief'

Priscilla Presley and Olivia DeJonge
Both Priscilla and Lisa Marie have given the film glowing reviews with Olivia saying it was a "huge relief" to find out they loved it. Photo: Getty

Speaking of her preparation for the role, Olivia said she wasn't able to speak with Priscilla or her daughter Lisa Marie Presley before she began work on the film, but did her own research and used Baz's "wealth of knowledge" to gain insight into the character.

"We got to touch base afterwards. And she came to Cannes with us, which was very, very exciting," the actress said of Priscilla.

Both Priscilla and Lisa Marie have given the film glowing reviews with Olivia saying it was a "huge relief" to find out they loved it.

"It's a huge, huge relief," she said. "You know, I think that carrying this film on all of our consciences 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."

"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."

Seeing Austin Butler as Elvis for the first time

Olivia DeJonge, Austin Butler with director Baz Luhrmann
Olivia with Austin Butler on set with director Baz Luhrmann. Photo: Supplied

Speaking of the moment she and Austin saw each other in full hair, makeup and costume for the first time, Olivia described it as "a huge pinch me moment".

"The whole build up as well, because we got shut down and then we weren't sure if we were going to come back and it was a nightmare and the world was in shambles... I think to be sitting on set and to sort of see these incredibly iconic people, you know, in our interpretations of them, in the incredible space that Baz and [Christine Martin] had created, it was pretty spectacular and lots of pinch me moments," she explained.

Olivia also spoke about how there was a period where the cast and crew didn't know if the film was going to get a cinema release due to Covid, "It's such a cinema film, it's a film that you have to see in a group of people with a huge screen in front of you, incredible surround sound, 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.

"[Mandy Walker's] cinematography is delicious, Baz has just refined his vision. It's a cinema film and I'm so glad that people are going to be able to see it in the cinema."

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