Olivia DeJonge’s Transformation Into Priscilla Presley, Explained

Aside from giving us a whole new perspective on the hip-thrusting, crooning, vibrant life of

Aside from giving us a whole new perspective on the hip-thrusting, crooning, vibrant life of the King of Rock, Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis is also a spectacle of era fashion.

Of course, a film covering the life of a music icon throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s was always going to involve a noteworthy wardrobe, but add Luhrmann to the mix and you can consider it levelled up—and up and up.

24-year-old Olivia DeJonge experienced Luhrmann’s vivacious more-is-more energy first-hand when she began preparing to play Priscilla Presley, the wife to the man millions of others desperately adored.

“I was overcome with joy, and then fear, and then curiosity, and then fear again,” DeJonge tells ELLE Australia of the moment she found out she’d scored the role.

And so began countless make-up tests that took “hours and hours”, then “days and days” of fittings for each Presley-worthy outfit. The result was specific—Baz is not one to just “make do”—and before us stood a damn good interpretation of the woman Elvis fell in love with all those years ago.

“It was about three and a half hours in the makeup chair every morning, so it was a long process,” DeJonge tells us.

“The hair was insane—it was hair upon hair, it felt like another head on top of my head.”

“Putting on the big wig, the double decker we liked to call her, it felt like such a transformation, so being bale to step into that was very fun.”

Of course, that wasn’t all they had to perfect each and every day.

“And the eyelashes! We did so many eyelash trials. I kept them after we wrapped, they’re a bit disgusting but they felt like another limb to me at that point,” DeJonge says.

DeJonge stopped at nothing—her aforementioned fear for being cast to play a real life person meant she was desparate to do it justice.

“When you play somebody who was a real person is always a bit scary because you don’t want to do an impersonation of them,” she explains.

“Baz was always so helpful with this, he said, ‘It’s an interpretation’—so it was about maintaining some truth and vulnerability, and so long as you’re doing some of the hard work beforehand, whether it’s the accent or the mannerisms you have to just throw that fear away.”

DeJonge was helped along the way by a professional movement coach who helped her nail Priscilla’s mannerisms.

“A lot of it came down to the accent,” DeJonge explains. “The American accent is a lot easier, but with [Priscilla] she has a certain softness to her voice… it’s very soft and very feminine in the way she moves, even things like how does she sit down, how does she walk, or even how does she look after her hair?!

“With these huge hairdos it’s a different way to operate—if you’re walking through the street and there’s wind, you’ve got to really hold this thing down,” DeJonge laughs, “It took a lot of practice.”

The result was worth it. Like her co-star Austin Butler, DeJonge has received praise for her performance—though no one’s opinion mattered to her more than Priscilla’s herself.

“She said lovely lovely things,” DeJonge explained, withholding any extra detail other than to say she was “very relieved,” at Elvis’ former wife’s reaction to the film.

DeJonge sure has come a long way since her humble upbringing in Perth, Australia. Naturally, she was very familiar with Luhrmann’s work before signing onto the film—perhaps more so than others.

“I’d actually studied Baz’s films in high school!” She tells us, “In year 9 or year 10 we did a whole semester on Baz Luhrmann… I should probably show him at some point some crappy essay I wrote about Romeo + Juliet and the mis en scene,” she laughs.

DeJonge also advocates that the praise for both her and Butler’s noteworthy performance as the iconic duo was thanks to Luhrmann.

“He’s got such a beautiful infectious energy, and his movies are such a reflection of who he is—he is fabulous, bedazzled, encouraging and very immersive—I think him telling the story about this incredible man was such a special experience.”

Elvis will be released in Australian theatres from June 23.

https://www.elle.com.au/beauty/olivia-dejonge-priscilla-presley-elvis-transformation-27166