I completely didn’t recognize Dacre Montgomery, who is someone I’ve interviewed in person, as Steve Binder in the film.
Isn’t that crazy? It’s funny, I’ve known Dacre for a very long time, and we actually worked on another movie together years ago, “Better Watch Out.” That was his debut movie, and it was pre-“Stranger Things” and pre-“Power Rangers,” We were like, “Maybe one day we’ll get a movie where we’ve got a proper scene together,” but it was really nice having him around. He’s so great and he’s wonderful in the film too.
Steve directed Priscilla’s 1984 video tour of Graceland, which you watched as part of your research. In what ways did that help you prepare for the role?
It helped me with getting used to the way that she speaks, or even just the softness in which she navigates the world. I wasn’t as accustomed to that way of moving, maybe because I’m Australian, so it was important for me to watch that, as well as listen to her as I was going to bed. I also worked a lot with Polly Bennett, our movement coach, to sort of physicalize that tone and vibe.
To paraphrase one of Ava DuVernay’s favorite questions, what do you hope people see in your film in regards to Priscilla?
I think that the grounding that she brought to Elvis’s life was paramount to his success early on. This film addresses the sort of male-dominated, very masculine and heavy sort of life that he was in, and Priscilla brought a softness and a femininity to him and his world, as well as the notion of family. After he lost his mother, that aspect of his life wasn’t there anymore. By birthing their child, she brought family home to him again, and I think that’s a really special aspect to their relationship as well. There is strength in softness. That is a huge thing that I, as a young woman, took away from the shooting experience and I hope that other people do too.
“Elvis” is now playing in theaters.