Priscilla Elvis
Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Presley and Jacob ELordi as Elvis Presley in Priscilla. Photo Credit: A24

“Your instinct is that you want to pan up to Elvis, because he’s sparkly and he’s Elvis,” Priscilla producer Youree Henry said of making Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla Presley drama.

“But our movie takes place with Priscilla. It’s kind of like if you were in the Baz [Luhrmann] movie and you went over into the wings. That’s where our movie lives.”

During a Q&A following a screening of Priscilla at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Henry explained the constant challenge of making sure Elvis — perfectly cast as the glamorous Euphoria star Jacob Elordi — never overshadowed or stole the spotlight from the main character: his wife, Priscilla, played by Bad Times at the El Royal actress Cailee Spaeny.

After all, the definitive Elvis drama had already been made the year before by Baz Luhrmann, Henry noted.

Producer Henry Youree on Making Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla

“I’d seen the Elvis movie and I was kinda like, ‘It’s great.’ Austin [Butler] was really good. And, you know, Baz Luhrmann did this really great thing. I thought for what it was, it was exactly what you expect when you go see an Elvis movie. It was brash, and it was loud, and it was all of those things. But you know, I think Priscilla is in the movie for like, two minutes or something,” he said.

“For us, it was so interesting. I didn’t know a lot about Priscilla until I was working on the project… when I dove into the world, I loved that I didn’t know anything about this woman’s story, but I obviously know about her husband quite a bit.”

Henry, the producer behind films like 20th Century Women, The Lighthouse, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and other Sofia Coppola movies like The Beguiled and The Bling Ring, explained that Elvis’ real-life habits were so extravagant to recreate for Priscilla that even just having him as a secondary character in Priscilla’s story got expensive very fas — so much so that it became an inside joke on set.

“I was like, ‘We have to get rid of Elvis. Like, Elvis is killing our budget,” Henry laughed. “He’s just a monster. He wants to take all our money. And this is not the Elvis movie — this is the Priscilla movie. The Priscilla movie we can make. We can’t make the Elvis movie and also, it was already just made.”

He continued: “I was like, ‘Every time that dude shows up, we just bleed money. And there was a little bit of that because he’s got another costume change and another 10 people around him, and they all have to change their clothes, and he’s got some music he wants to play and all those things are taking away from our Priscilla movie. But I think in the end we really balanced it out and we really stayed true to the original intention, which was to tell Priscilla’s story.”

Also Read: Priscilla: 5 Huge Details the Movie Leaves Out

Henry also noted that director Sofia Coppola often reminded the team that they could take some creative license with Priscilla, and not to think of it as a documentary. So when it became clear that the height difference between 6’5″ Jacob Elordi and 5’1″ Cailee Spaeny was much more dramatic than that of the real life couple, they decided to lean into it as a way of underscoring Elvis’s larger-than-life persona and how Priscilla may have looked up to him.

“We looked at that, and the instinct, of course, is to be like, ‘What the hell? We’re going to have to put her on apple boxes. And then we started looking at it, and we were like, actually, this is amazing. And it’s perfect, because it’s okay if we’re with her and he’s out of the frame a bit. It actually helps tell our story more.”

Priscilla had its wide release in U.S. theaters on Nov. 3.

Watch the full interview below.

Main Image: Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Presley and Jacob Elordi as Elvis Presley in Priscilla. Photo Credit: A24