Baz Luhrmann Felt Harry Styles Was Too Much Of An “Icon” To Play Elvis

Baz Luhrman and Harry Styles
Brendon Thorne/Getty Images/Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

Harry Styles’ acting career is on the upswing. The singer-turned-actor will debut in his first starring role in Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling this fall, followed by the romantic drama, My Policeman. Basically, if you’re itching to see Styles on the big screen, you won’t be disappointed in the upcoming months. Despite that, some of Styles’ fan feel there is one more role Styles went out for that he should have gotten—Elvis in the upcoming Baz Luhrmann biopic. Now, ahead of the film’s release, Luhrmann is speaking out about why Styles wasn’t given the titular role, and it is hard to argue with the director’s reasoning.

While speaking with Australian radio hosts, Fitzy and Wippa, Luhrmann opened up about testing Styles in the role. Luhrmann explained he didn’t audition the actors going out for Elvis, but put them through “these really rich workshops,” which sounds vaguely like what Madonna is currently doing with the actresses eager to star in her rumored biopic.

“Harry is a really talented actor. I would work on something with him,” Luhrmann said. “The real issue with Harry is, he’s Harry Styles. He’s already an icon.” It seems that Luhrmann didn’t believe that fans could look past Styles and see Elvis, while Austin Butler came into the project with more anonymity. Luhrmann continued, saying Styles was “desperate to put the suit on and explore,” but in the end, he felt like the role “drew [Austin] in” like he was “born to play it.”

Luhrmann’s comments come not long after Styles himself spoke about the rejection during a recent interview with Howard Stern. “I feel like if a director feels like I’m not the best person for the role then it’s better for them and it’s better for me,” he said. “If they think the movie’s going to be better with someone else then I don’t want to do it because I don’t want to be the not as-good version.”

So, in the end, the role went to Butler, who, in turn, spent “two years nonstop, living and breathing Elvis,” to the point where, when filming wrapped, Butler had to go through “a sort of deprogramming,” as described by Luhrmann. “My body just started shutting down the day after I finished Elvis,” Butler said in an interview with GQ. “The next day I woke up at four in the morning with excruciating pain, and I was rushed to the hospital.” In the end, he was diagnosed with “a virus that simulates appendicitis,” not Elvis withdrawal.