Elvis Presley Ex Cybill Shepherd Says Austin Butler Has 'Rough Row to Hoe' as Rock Icon

Actor Austin Butler was recently cast to play Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann's upcoming film centered around the late singer, with the movie focusing on Presley's relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, who will be played by Tom Hanks.

Speaking to TMZ, Presley's ex Cybill Shepherd shared that she approved of Butler's casting, though when it comes to diving into Presley's life, she said, "I think it's a rough row to hoe."

As for who should play Presley's ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, Shepherd didn't share a specific wish, noting, "That's a tough one — I would never go there."

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Shepherd and Presley dated in the '70s, and Shepherd wrote in her memoir that she couldn't handle the performer's drug use.

"Long enough," Shepherd said when asked how long she and Presley dated, adding that she had read a book on Presley's life alleging that while Shepherd was in a hotel room in Las Vegas, Presley had two other women on the same floor. "No wonder he was tired," she cracked.

While Luhrmann's film will detail Presley's life, it will reportedly focus more on Parker than his star client, though Luhrmann noted that Butler's casting was critical.

“I knew I couldn’t make this film if the casting wasn’t absolutely right, and we searched thoroughly for an actor with the ability to evoke the singular natural movement and vocal qualities of this peerless star, but also the inner vulnerability of the artist,” the director said in a statement to Deadline. “Throughout the casting process, it was an honor for me to encounter such a vast array of talent. I had heard about Austin Butler from his stand-out role opposite Denzel Washington in The Iceman Cometh on Broadway, and through a journey of extensive screen testing and music and performance workshops, I knew unequivocally that I had found someone who could embody the spirit of one of the world’s most iconic musical figures.”

Priscilla Presley recently discussed the film with Us Weekly, sharing that she'll be working in a hands-on role with Luhrmann.

“I have been involved with Baz,” she said. “He has come to my home and he has been emailing me. In fact, we’re going to be having another lunch at my home. He’s keeping me on top of everything. It’s been wonderful. He is a genius.”

“I’m not getting involved with any kind of telling him what to do or how to do it or suggestions,” she continued. “No, no. I think this will be very stylized, very different.”

Priscilla added that she was happy to hear of Hanks' casting, praising the actor for his work.


“Tom Hanks can pretty much capture anybody as far as his acting ability and how professional he is and how deep and deeply involved he gets with the character,” she shared. “I’m extremely pleased. I think that it’ll be very good.”

Photo Credit: Getty / Cindy Ord