This Is Why Jacob Elordi Saying That “Lilo & Stitch” Was His Only Point Of Reference For Elvis Presley Isn’t As Random As It Seems

It appears that learning about the King of Rock ’n’ Roll through a 2002 Disney movie is actually pretty common among Gen Z.

Last year, Austin Butler dominated the headlines for his performance as Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic Elvis.

Austin Butler as Elvis singing onstage

The actor made no secret of the grueling work that he’d put into the role, which was eerily predicted by his former girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens months before he was cast.

Austin Butler as Elvis

Austin revealed that he’d been told in the past that he bears a resemblance to the music icon, but when Vanessa told him that he had to play Elvis someday, he figured that it was “a long shot.”

Closeup of Austin Butler

So when Austin’s agent told him that Baz was making an Elvis movie a month later, Austin immediately hired movement, singing, and dialect coaches to prepare for his audition.

Austin Butler with Baz Luhrmann sitting on a couch at an event

After a rigorous five-month audition process, Austin flew to Australia for filming only for production to be shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The star refused the invitation to be flown back to Los Angeles, and instead spent the next six months alone in the foreign country, fully immersing himself in all things Elvis.

Closeup of Elvis singing an playing aguitar

In fact, Austin told GQ that he turned his apartment into what was effectively a “detective scene” as he thoroughly researched every aspect of the singer’s life.

Display of Elvis memorabilia

By the time that filming finally ended, much later than scheduled on account of the pandemic, Austin said that he’d lost touch of his own identity having spent so long dedicating himself to doing the role of Elvis justice.

Closeup of Austin Butler walking oustide

His costar Tom Hanks even ended up offering him a role on his next project because he was concerned for Austin’s “mental health” after he’d “immersed” himself “so deeply in Elvis.”

Austin and Tom Hanks onstage

But filming didn’t just take a mental toll on Austin; the day after production ended, he was rushed to the hospital because his body had begun “shutting down,” leaving him bedridden for a week.

Closeup of Austin Butler

Fast-forward to 2023, and there is another Elvis in the building, with Euphoria star Jacob Elordi playing the King of Rock 'n' Roll in A24’s upcoming Priscilla.

Screenshot from "Priscilla" of Jacob Elord as Elvis i raising his cape

As the name of the movie suggests, Priscilla is focused on Elvis’s wife, Priscilla Presley, played by Cailee Spaeny. Priscilla met Elvis when she was just 14 years old and he was 24, and they got married seven years later before divorcing in 1972.

Closeup of Priscilla and Elvis Presley on their wedding day

The movie, directed by Sofia Coppola, is based on Priscilla’s 1985 memoir Elvis and Me, and when it came to prepping for the role, it’s fair to say that Jacob’s process couldn’t have been more different to Austin’s.

Jacob Elordi as Elvis

In fact, during an appearance on Monday’s Tonight Show, 26-year-old Jacob admitted that everything he knew about Elvis prior to being cast was from the 2002 Disney film Lilo & Stitch.

Closeup of Jacob Elordi

And, highlighting the difference between him and Austin right off the bat, Jacob kickstarted the interview by saying: “[Elvis] wasn’t on my list of people to play.”

Closeup of Jacob Elordi

Jimmy Fallon then asked if Jacob had been an Elvis fan growing up, to which the actor bluntly replied: “No, the most I knew of Elvis was in Lilo & Stitch.” As Jimmy and the audience expressed their shock, Jacob then insisted: “Which is a lot!”

Jacob and Jimmy in discussion

The Australian star also had a pretty casual approach to the audition process, explaining that he watched one clip of Elvis, briefly looked over the lines, and then shot a self-tape to submit in just two takes.

Closeup of Jacob Elordi

“I watched this clip of him when he came back from the Army in Germany,” Jacob began. “I read the lines for, like, 15 minutes then shot two takes, not thinking that it would go anywhere.”

Closeup of Elvis saluting

And, after being cast, rather than prioritizing embodying the real-life Elvis through his performance, Jacob had different plans.

Screenshot from "Priscilla" of Jacob as Elvis walking though a crowd of people

“The whole time I was trying to take it like I was making Blue Valentine or something,” he said, referencing the 2010 movie that chronicles a couple’s love story. “A straight-up relationship drama, without Elvis or Priscilla, for Sofia Coppola. That was the goal.”

Sofia Coppola, Priscilla Presley, Cailee Spaeny, and Jacob Elordi on the red carpet

Responding to this interview, many couldn’t help but compare Jacob’s approach to playing Elvis to Austin’s, with one person writing on a Reddit forum: “On one hand we have Austin Butler staying in Elvis character for an unreasonably long time, and on the other we have this.”

“On one hand we have Austin Butler staying in Elvis character for an unreasonably long time, and on the other we have this lol”

Another joked: “Austin Butler just fell to his knees at Walmart.” Someone else mused: “I see he’s doing the reverse Austin Butler Oscars approach.”

“Austin Butler just fell to his knees at Walmart”
“I see he’s doing the reverse Austin Butler Oscars approach”

While another user highlighted the key reason for the different methods, pointing out that Austin’s movie was more heavily focused on Elvis as a performer and thus required a lot more research. They also pointed out that, because of the pandemic, Austin ended up stuck in the role for much longer than Jacob.

Austin as Elvis

“That’s comparing apples and oranges,” they began. “These are 2 very different performances for drastically different filmmakers. One was a product of pandemic delay and required singing and dancing, another required more serious approach. Jacob didn’t have to stay as Elvis for 3 years because of COVID, he only had to do it for slightly longer than 30 days.”

“These are 2 very different performances for drastically different filmmakers"

Meanwhile, while many older fans were left shocked by Jacob’s comment about Lilo & Stitch, his early exposure to Elvis appears to be common among Gen Z.

Screenshot from "Lilo & Stitch"

Gen Z refers to anyone born from 1997 through 2012, with Jacob a Gen Z elder having been born in ’97.

Closeup of Jacob Elordi

“As another '97 baby, I relate. He’s actually very real for this! Also Lilo & Stitch is peak cinema to me🤌🏾,” one person commented.

“As another '97 baby, I relate."

“Honestly same. We were born in the same year so that tracks for us 97ers,” another agreed. One more wrote: “I’m not familiar with this man, but I am familiar with learning about Elvis from Lilo.”

“Honestly same. We were born in the same year so that tracks for us 97ers"
“I’m not familiar with this man, but I am familiar with learning about Elvis from Lilo”

“He’s my age and honestly…. Lilo & Stitch and Full House really shaped my Elvis knowledge,” someone else added.

“He’s my age and honestly…. Lilo & Stitch and Full House really shaped my Elvis knowledge”

And while it may be hard to believe, Elvis actually is a core part of the 21-year-old Disney movie, with the company officially collaborating with Elvis’s estate during production.

Priscilla Presley with Lilo characters

The concept is said to have served two different purposes; the first was to highlight how the movie’s protagonist Lilo is different to other girls her age because of her interest in older music, like Elvis. The other was because the movie is set in Hawaii, where many of Elvis’s most iconic films were based.

Elvis playing guitar while surrounded by women

No less than five Elvis songs feature in the 75-minute movie, and Elvis’s image is even used when Lilo holds up a poster of the singer to teach Stitch, an alien, how to be a “model citizen.”

In a key montage in the film, Lilo tells Stitch: “Elvis Presley was a model citizen. I’ve compiled a list of his traits for you to practice. Number one is dancing.”

The two characters then dance in a stereotypical "Elvis" fashion, with Lilo then saying: “Let’s move on to step two; Elvis played guitar.”

She then gives Stitch a guitar and teaches him how to play, with the scene ending with Stitch dressed in a replica of Elvis’s iconic white jumpsuit and wearing the star’s signature black quiff while playing guitar and dancing.

Elvis’s estate ended up being so involved in the movie that the night before its premiere, Graceland hosted a luau party in celebration of its release.

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