Elvis scooped up eight Oscar nominations on Tuesday, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Austin Butler in the title role. The good news dovetailed neatly with the birthday of director Baz Luhrmann’s wife and producing partner Catherine Martin, and their wedding anniversary, and yet tragically, it also comes just two days after the pair attended the funeral service for Elvis Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie Presley.

Speaking to Deadline from Paris, Luhrmann and Martin reflected on the news, and what it has meant to them to bring Elvis’ legacy to the forefront and to restore an accurate public representation of him.

“We’ve had some really difficult days,” Luhrmann said, “and it was good to just get away and be here for this.”

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Asked how he feels having restored Elvis’s image to his family and fans, he said, “It’s more a sense of fairness to someone who was about music and touching people and who really was spiritual and deeply kind actually, and sensitive.”

Martin added, “I think when you’re dealing with Priscilla and Lisa Marie, and a man who lived and is loved by millions, you want to be respectful.”

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Both Luhrmann and Martin give huge credit to the nominated Butler for his performance.

“Obviously this isn’t a documentary, this is a storytelling, but to get as close to a human story and to find that humanity in Elvis, I think that is what Austin really has given to the world. He found Elvis’s humanity and put it on screen,” said Martin, who is also nominated for costume design and production design.

“If there’s one thing I couldn’t bear not happening it would be him not being recognized for his almost almost unearthly achievement in revealing the soul of that character,” Luhrmann added.

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Luhrmann also highlighted DP Mandy Walker’s nomination — only the third woman ever to be nominated in that category.

“I mean, it’s just shocking to me that in 90 years, only three women have been nominated as a DP,” he said.

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And he delighted in the nomination for his editors. “I think about the faces of the people that I spend hours and hours and hours in rooms with, or on sets with, like Jonathan Redmond and Matt Villa. Those ones that don’t get the recognition. To me that’s a thrilling part. It really is a great end to an epic journey.”

Elvis will return to theaters this week after its initial June release, then streaming on HBO Max, and this seems especially meaningful to Luhrmann, who has fought hard for theatrical cinema.

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“I just got the news too, that the film’s going back into cinemas on Friday,” Luhrmann said. “I mean, that’s amazing. This film opened in summer, you know. [We thought] well, you won’t get older and younger audiences back, and now it’s going back into the cinema. So it just has a life of its own.”


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