In 2022 an $85-million movie called Elvis made a star out of Austin Butler and became the highest-grossing original film at the box office. But after Priscilla Presley watched the film, she shared that she'd "relived every moment" and that it had taken "a few days to overcome the emotions." That's despite the fact that the Priscilla character only has 15 minutes of screen time in Elvis! So it's no surprise that the King's ex-wife got even more emotional when, in 2023, Hollywood released an entire movie based on her own rock 'n' roll life.
Priscilla's side of the story
Priscilla knew, of course, that the movie Priscilla was always going to be a hard one for her to watch. "I'm so nervous because it's my life," she told The Hollywood Reporter in August 2023. This was right before the film premiered at the Venice International Film Festival.
"The people who are watching, they're living it with you, and you hope and pray that they get it," Priscilla added. "They get your feelings, your hurts, your sensitivity." But luckily for Priscilla, the person tasked with bringing her life story to the screen was acclaimed filmmaker Sofia Coppola.
The right woman for the job
Coppola has experience crafting female-forward movies and has even lived a similar life to Priscilla. After all, Coppola grew up in the shadow of her famous filmmaker father, Francis Ford Coppola. "I know from my family what it's like to be inside a show-business family," Sofia Coppola told The Hollywood Reporter.
"I know that growing up, people are looking at you in a different way," she continued. "And also living in a house with my dad, this big personality, a great artist, and a lot of our life revolving around that." Yet Priscilla no doubt still had reasons to be fearful. Her life is clearly far from ordinary, and 2023 has been another tumultuous year for her and her family.
Lisa Marie's passing left a hole
In January 2023 Lisa Marie Presley suddenly passed away after suffering an obstruction in her small bowel. She had been only 54 years old. "I did know there was something not right," Priscilla told The Hollywood Reporter. But that didn't make her death any easier to cope with.
"I still can't believe it," she added. "I don't wish this on any mother." There was also the added complication of Priscilla filing a petition that called Lisa Marie's will into question, resulting in a months-long court case. But the legal action was eventually settled; that meant the only thing left to deal with was the movie.
Priscilla's teenage dreams on screen
There are certainly some parts of Priscilla's story that were tricky to adapt in 2023. Not least was the fact that Priscilla first met Elvis Presley in 1959 when she was 14 years old and he was 24. What would a modern audience make of such an illicit romance?
"It was a different time," Priscilla admitted to The Hollywood Reporter. "I lived in his world. I wanted to please him. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to have fun with him. I wanted to see what it was that he liked." In real life as well as in the movie, Priscilla wouldn't take no for an answer.