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Lisa Presley: "My father only comes across as a predator and manipulative"

“Priscilla” is a biopic of Priscilla Presley, based on the subject’s 1985 memoir “Elvis and Me.” It has sparked conversation among critics and the audience for its portrait of Elvis and Priscilla’s courtship – one that began in Germany in 1959 when Priscilla was 14 and Elvis was 24.

Two rising stars are leading the way, with Jacob Elordi from Euphoria playing Elvis and Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla, whose performance has already got her a best actress award at the Venice Film Festival for her performance.

Lisa Marie Presley expressed shock and horror over the depiction of her father Elvis Presley in the script for Sofia Coppola’s new film “Priscilla.” Described in two emails that were sent roughly four hours apart in September 2022, obtained exclusively by Variety, the late Presley asked Coppola to reconsider her vision for the character and to spare her family public embarrassment. The messages were sent four months before Lisa’s passing away in January, caused by a fatal cardiac arrest due to complications from a bariatric surgery she’d undergone several years before.

Through the emails Lisa Marie Presley shared her horror with the Oscar-winning director, saying the film could put strain on her relationship with her mother Priscilla.

She added: “I am worried that my mother isn’t seeing the nuance here or realizing the way in which Elvis will be perceived when this movie comes out,” Presley also wrote: “My father only comes across as a predator and manipulative”

Beyond the concerns of the daughter, Priscilla Presley has voiced her support for the project since its inception and served as an executive producer. In a behind-the-scenes clip shared by A24 in October, she stated that she chose to work with Coppola out of respect for her talents. She agreed that “It’s very difficult to sit and watch a film about you and about your life and about your love” but she believed that “Sofia did an amazing job, she did her homework. We spoke a couple of times, and I really put everything out for her that I could,”

The filmmaker also said: "When Priscilla first saw the final movie, the first thing she said was, 'Cailee really — that's how I felt’.” And she couldn't believe how Jacob's voice “sounded just so much like Elvis”, which was extremely gratifying for Coppola.

The emails written by Lisa also reflect what was personally at stake for her, in particular the impact that the film could have on her daughters saying. “We’ve all been drowning,” says Lisa alluding to her divorce, the custode battle and the tragic death of her son Benjamin in 2020. Adding that she did not understand Coppola’s “need to attempt to take my father down on the heels of such an incredible film using the excuse that you are trying to tell my mother’s story, but from your very dark and jaded reality.” She took 2022 screenplay “Elvis” by director Baz Luhrmann as an example of a well-written film, praising it and saying “It made us all so proud because it was a true depiction of who he really was.”

But the whole thing could just be a misunderstanding. An insider close to the film said the exchanges were made on Sept. 2, 2022, only weeks away from the beginning of “Priscilla.” The source confirmed the film is exclusively based on the book “Elvis and Me,” and efforts were made to “tone down” some elements of the book that would have been shocking to contemporary audiences.

Lisa Marie Presley is allegedly believed to have seen an early draft of the script, which was eventually “trimmed” by about 10 pages when principal photography started on Oct. 24, 2022.

A rep for Presley and A24 distributor did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Only Coppola’s rep shared one of the responses the director sent Lisa Marie in September 2022 with Variety: ”I hope that when you see the final film you will feel differently, and understand I’m taking great care in honoring your mother, while also presenting your father with sensitivity and complexity," Coppola reportedly wrote.

Coppola also recently told EW during a roundtable discussion that her priority for the movie was "approaching it with sensitivity.” Adding "It was really important that I felt that Priscilla felt that her story was represented in a way that was true to her,”

The news has now raised the spotlight on the film witch is already an awards season contender,

Priscilla's wide release in theaters occurs on November 3, 2023. A24 released the movie domestically in a limited capacity starting on October 27, but that was only in four theaters. Priscilla's streaming release date has not been announced, but it is not expected to happen for quite some time. As an A24 release, the movie will stream on Paramount+ through Showtime at a later date, which is typically about eight months after the official release.


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