Director Baz Luhrmann’s newest stylistic bonanza Elvis starring Austin Butler already runs at 159 minutes, as it explores the rise and inevitable fall of The King. However, Luhrmann recently shared he does indeed have a longer version of the film which clocks in at a full four hours.
“I mean, I have a four-hour version, actually,” he says in an interview with Radio Times. “I do. But you have to bring it down to 2 hours 30.”
In the extended version, Luhrmann explores more behind the scenes aspects of Elvis’ career, such as his relationship with his bandmates.
“I would have liked to lean into some of the other things more. There’s so much more,” Luhrmann says. “I mean, there’s lots of stuff that I shot like the relationship with the band, I had to pare [that] down, and it’s so interesting how the Colonel [Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks] gets rid of them.”
While two and a half hours may already be too hard on the ol’ attention span, Elvis superfans will miss out on when he starts doing “wackadoo” things in the version that is making its way to theaters.
“You know, the addiction to barbiturates and all of that, like what happens is he starts doing wackadoo things, like going down to see [President] Nixon,” Luhrmann says. “I had it in there for a while but there just comes a point where you can’t have everything in, so I just tried to track the spirit of the character.”
Additionally, Luhrmann wanted to delve deeper into Elvis’ first relationship with a young girl named Dixie Locke. The two reportedly dated for a while in 1954, when Elvis was 19 and Locke was a sophomore in high school. Luhrmann says extended version of the film shows how this first heartbreak affected him and his career.
“Once he’s caught in a trap, and he’s discombobulated and doesn’t understand…someone who’s got such a hole in his heart like Elvis constantly looking and searching for love and finding it onstage but nowhere else,” Luhrmann says.
Elvis enters theaters on June 24.