Priscilla is directed by Sofia Coppola, and stars Jacob Elordi as the King of Rock and Roll, and Cailee Spaeny as the titular character.
Priscilla famously met Elvis when she was just 14 years old and he was 24. They got married seven years later and welcomed a daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, before divorcing in 1972.
Ahead of the movie’s release, real-life Priscilla has been full of high praise for the production. Speaking at the Venice Film Festival press conference for the biopic, she said that she was particularly impressed by the movie’s accuracy.
“It’s very difficult to sit and watch a film about you, about your life, about your love,” Priscilla said. “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.”
However, it has now been revealed that before her death earlier this year, Elvis’s daughter Lisa Marie was much less supportive of Sofia’s project.
In fact, after reading the script for Priscilla, Lisa Marie warned the director that she would publicly go against her and her mom when the movie was released in two emails that have been obtained by Variety.
The emails were sent four months before Lisa Marie suffered a fatal cardiac arrest in January, and in them she claims that her famous father “only comes across as a predator and manipulative” in the “vengeful” movie.
Per Variety, her email goes on: “As his daughter, I don’t read this and see any of my father in this character. I don’t read this and see my mother’s perspective of my father. I read this and see your shockingly vengeful and contemptuous perspective and I don’t understand why?”
Lisa Marie also expressed her concerns that her mom “isn’t seeing the nuance” of the script, “or realizing the way in which Elvis will be perceived” by viewers. She added: “I feel protective over my mother who has spent her whole life elevating my father’s legacy. I am worried she doesn’t understand the intentions behind this film or the outcome it will have.”
With Priscilla listed as an executive producer on the project and a part of the film’s promo run, Lisa Marie wrote: “I will be forced to be in a position where I will have to openly say how I feel about the film and go against you, my mother and this film publicly.”
She went on to urge Sofia to think of her teen daughters, who she’d apparently already warned “there is going to be a movie about her grandfather that is going to try to make him look really, really bad but it’s not true.”
Replying to the email, Sofia purportedly told Lisa Marie: “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.”
A source has told Variety that due to Lisa Marie’s concerns, Sofia made an effort to “tone down” some elements of Priscilla’s book that were being adapted for inclusion in the movie.
The source added that Lisa Marie is thought to have only seen an “early draft” of the script, which ended up being “trimmed” by about 10 pages before production began.
Meanwhile, Sofia has skirted around questions relating to Pricilla and Elvis’s controversial age gap when discussing the movie, with the star telling Rolling Stone earlier this month: “I try not to be judgmental of any of the characters.”
Priscilla has also insisted on multiple occasions that she and Elvis were not intimate when she was a minor. She and Elvis first met in Germany while he was serving in the army, and speaking at Venice Film Festival, Priscilla said that she believes Elvis was interested in her because she was a “listener.”
“Elvis would pour his heart out to me in every way in Germany: his fears, his hopes, the loss of his mother, which he never, ever got over,” she said. “People think, ‘Oh, it was sex.’ No, it wasn’t. I never had sex with him.”
“He was very kind, very soft, very loving, but he also respected the fact I was only 14 years old. We were more in line in thought, and that was our relationship,” Priscilla added.
While Lisa Marie was clearly horrified by her mom’s biopic, she was full of praise for last year’s Elvis movie — particularly Austin Butler’s performance as her dad.
Writing in an Instagram post, she told fans: “I have seen Baz Luhrmann’s movie ‘Elvis’ twice now, and let me tell you that it is nothing short of spectacular. Absolutely exquisite. Austin Butler channeled and embodied my father’s heart and soul beautifully.”
“In my humble opinion, his performance is unprecedented and FINALLY done accurately and respectfully,” Lisa Marie added. “You can feel and witness Baz’s pure love, care, and respect for my father throughout this beautiful film, and it is finally something that myself and my children and their children can be proud of forever.”
She went on to say that she’d been left moved to tears to see her children “visibly overwhelmed in the best way possible way, and so filled with pride about their grandfather and his legacy in a way that I have not previously experienced” after watching the movie.
Lisa Marie rounded off her post by thanking the movie’s director, Baz Luhrmann, for “setting the record straight” with regard to her father.
Priscilla is currently showing in US theaters, and will be released globally in 2024.