Priscilla Beaulieu was a 14-year-old Military brat when she met the world’s largest star, Elvis Presley, sparking a love story that’s the stuff of rock ‘n’ roll legend. When “Priscilla” star Cailee Spaeny was 14, she developed a unique sort of crush — a cinematic one — on Sofia Coppola.
It began when she watched “The Virgin Suicides,” Coppola’s 1999 characteristic directorial debut. “It simply type of cracked me open,” Spaeny tells Selection. “It was the primary time I requested myself who was behind the digital camera.”
So, it was surreal when, a decade later, Spaeny bought a name from her reps telling her to get on a aircraft as a result of “Sofia desires to have espresso with you in New York.”
On the assembly, Spaeny tried to play it cool whereas consuming croissants along with her idol. “All my childhood desires had been coming true,” the actor recollects. “Then she pulled out her iPad, and she or he began exhibiting me pictures of Priscilla Presley. That was type of stunning.”
Coppola was looking for an actress who might play Priscilla from age 14 to 29 as a result of, like Presley’s 1985 memoir “Elvis and Me,” she aimed to inform the story chronologically, starting with the couple’s first assembly in 1959 when Elvis (performed by Jacob Elordi) was stationed in Germany. The A24 film — which opens nationwide on Nov. 3 – captures the highs and lows of their prolonged courtship, in addition to their 1967 Las Vegas marriage ceremony, the start of their daughter Lisa-Marie and their 1973 divorce.
Thankfully, Spaeny, 25, is simply baby-faced sufficient to believably play the youthful Priscilla. Even higher, the star, finest identified for “Mare of Easttown” and “The Craft: Legacy,” not too long ago labored with Coppola’s frequent collaborator Kirsten Dunst, who put in a superb phrase. “I knew that if Kirsten thought she was gifted and nice to work with, I might have the boldness to solid her after assembly one time,” Coppola says.
Getting the nod from Dunst actually brings issues full circle, Spaeny provides, mentioning that “Kirsten performed Marie Antoinette when she was 23, and I used to be 24 once I did ‘Priscilla,’ so the crossover was fairly magical. That’s once you begin going, ‘Hmm, is the universe doing one thing right here?’”
The script that Coppola despatched Spaeny exhibited the filmmaker’s signature stylish aesthetic. In a pink envelope was a handwritten thank-you card and a lumious picture of Priscilla was printed on the entrance web page. Studying these pages underlined what had captivated Spaeny since she first watched “The Virgin Suicides.”
“The best way that Sofia captures loneliness is outstanding. It’s magic,” she says. “I don’t know precisely how she does it, however I can’t consider one other filmmaker that basically places their finger on it in the best way that she does.”
Coppola nails this very distinct sort of melancholy that comes with being a younger lady. That pressure that comes with looking for your self and break away from the expectations of others — whether or not mother and father (like Lex and her sisters in “The Virgin Suicides”) or a major different (like Elvis, as that pseudo-paternal determine that older boyfriends typically lean too far into). “He taught me the whole lot. How you can gown, tips on how to stroll, tips on how to apply make-up and put on my hair, tips on how to behave, tips on how to return love — his means. Over time, he grew to become my father, husband, and really almost God,” Presley writes in “Elvis and Me.”
It was this concept that Coppola and Spaeny aimed to seize — wanting past the fairy story façade of relationship Elvis and portray Priscilla’s actuality as a substitute. “What struck me studying the guide are the moments the place you see her having to maintain secrets and techniques and reside this double life, and the way type of heartbreaking that’s,” Spaeny says.
Spaeny describes Coppola’s strategy as “impressionistic,” evaluating Priscilla’s relationship with Elvis to Alice in Wonderland happening the rabbit gap. However by the tip of the movie, she notes, “[Priscilla] comes out the opposite facet seeing issues extra clearly.”
To assist the actor put together, Coppola related Spaeny with Presley so she might achieve perception immediately from the queen of rock ‘n’ roll.
“I attempted to prep as a lot as I might, after which the second she began coming my technique to sit down on the desk, all of them went out of my head. I couldn’t get phrases out,” Spaeny admits. “She finally stated, ‘So, do you will have any questions for me?’”
As soon as Spaeny discovered her phrases, Presley candidly and vividly mirrored on her experiences and the 2 ladies bonded over a four-hour dialog.
“Moments that had been like gold to me had been watching her eyes mild up when she talked about some joke Elvis informed her, or what she was feeling on the night time she first went to satisfy him, or particulars concerning the loneliness,” Spaeny recollects. “Seeing her relive these moments once more, was one thing that can keep on with me for the remainder of my life, however had been the important items in placing this puzzle collectively.”
One other important factor was Spaeny’s relationship with Elordi. Coppola solid the 2 leads and not using a chemistry learn, in order that they later went horseback driving to bond; it was Spaeny’s thought.
“It was not an excellent technique to get to know somebody. You’re on horseback. He’s like, behind me on a horse,” she says, turning round to reveal why dialog was awkward. “However we had enjoyable. He was all the time so recreation. We knew it was actually essential for us to have belief and a bond earlier than we went into filming.”
The 30-day Toronto-based shoot was “absolute insanity” each by way of its enjoyable – driving round on golf carts in entrance of a devoted recreation of Graceland — and its challenges. The movie shot out of order, which means that Spaeny would “be pregnant within the morning, after which after lunch, I’d be 14 years outdated.” Thus, Spaeny and the filmmakers used hair, make-up and costumes (roughly 130 seems to be) to assist anchor the story in time.
“There was just one means you may stroll — doll-like, which fortunately served the position,” Spaeny says of donning Priscilla’s iconic — and large — bouffant. “That plus the heels and sitting in these lovely little ‘60s clothes was exterior my consolation zone, but it surely was enjoyable. It was like dress-up.”
Nonetheless, entering into vehicles whereas sporting the wigs proved notably difficult, Spaeny admits, laughing. Though folks tried to warn her, she by no means fairly mastered the spatial consciousness needed for hair that top. “You’ve gotten an entire different head on high of your head,” she quips.
On set, Coppola was notably impressed with the best way Spaeny captured Presley’s essence, saying “Cailee simply has this potential and expertise of with the ability to categorical a lot on her face.” Coppola’s not alone in her reward. In September, Spaeny received the most effective actress prize on the Venice Movie Competition, the place the movie premiered. (Spaeny, who subsequent stars within the upcoming “Alien” reboot, has additionally been nominated for a Gotham Award.)
It was a profession spotlight, however hoisting a trophy can’t evaluate to the final word prize: Priscilla Presley’s approval. “She pulled me apart in Venice to say that she noticed her life by way of this film,” Spaeny remembers, nonetheless buzzing from the interplay. “I virtually burst into tears.”