A few heads were turned when the two-and-a-half-hour runtime of Baz Luhrmann's Elvis biopic was announced – but it seems that the film would have been even longer if the Australian director had his way.
During an exclusive interview with RadioTimes.com, Luhrmann revealed that a four-hour version of the film exists, which includes several scenes that had to be cut from the version that will be released in cinemas.
"I mean, I have a four-hour version, actually," he said. "I do. But you have to bring it down to 2 hours 30."
He went on to explain exactly what parts of the King of Rock and Roll's story he was sorry to leave out of the theatrically-released cut.
"I would have liked to lean into some of the other things more – there's so much more," he said. "I mean, there's lots of stuff that I shot like the relationship with the band, I had to pare [that] down – and it's so interesting how the Colonel [Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks] gets rid of them.
"The relationship with his first girlfriend, Dixie, you know. And later on how... once he's caught in a trap, and he's discombobulated and doesn't understand... someone who's got such a hole in his heart like Elvis constantly looking and searching for love and finding it on stage but nowhere else."
Luhrmann also revealed that an iconic moment from Elvis' life that doesn't make it into the film – his famous meeting with President Richard Nixon – was originally included in the film before he had to make some tough decisions.
"You know, the addiction to barbiturates and all of that, like what happens is he starts doing wackadoo things – like going down to see Nixon. I had it in there for a while but there just comes a point where you can't have everything in, so I just tried to track the spirit of the character."
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The film stars Austin Butler as Presley and charts the pop culture icon's rise from carnival singer to King of Rock and Roll to Las Vegas performer, through the lens of his long-time manager Colonel Tom Parker.
And Luhrmann revealed how he took inspiration from Shakespeare when drafting the script – claiming the film isn't really a biopic in the usual sense of the word.
"The way Shakespeare takes historical figures and makes a bigger point," he explained, before adding why he decided to present the film from Parker's point of view.
"I knew a bit about Parker," he explained. "But a few years ago, when there were a lot of them, you know, the idea of these guys that would be quite proud about telling... I guess you call them lies.
"But really like, big, toxic positive lies – carnival selling. Well, you put that next to Elvis, who's this incredibly vulnerable kid who grows up in one of the few white houses in the Black community – like Eminem.
"And it just seems to speak to right now, the tension between the carnival selling, the hucksterism, the snake oil bit, and then the vulnerable and the pure and honest."
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