Warner Bros’ Elvis film has found its actor for the role of Little Richard. After a long search, one that saw the studio tab Austin Butler to play the title character and Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker, Deadline reports that Alton Mason will take on the role of the iconic musician. This will be Mason’s biggest role to date as the 23-year-old’s career has predominantly seen him as a highly successful model for brands like Gucci, Versace and Michael Kors. The outlet notes that director Baz Luhrmann looked far and wide to find the right actor to play Little Richard and felt that Mason checked off all of the boxes.
The film is slated for a 2021 release on Nov. 5 after being pushed back a month. Warner Bros. will also stream the film on HBO Max as it will for all of its theatrical releases in 2021. These designated movies will stream for one month on the service before being removed and added back at a later date. Along with Butler, Hanks and now Mason, the film also has cast Olivia DeJonge as Priscilla Presley. The project initially rose to the surface back in 2014 when Luhrmann inked a deal to direct the film. It wasn’t until 2019, when Hanks was brought along, that the movie began to take some major strides in development. That July, Butler was signed on as the face of the film, beating out rumored finalists like Harry Styles and Miles Teller. Mason is one of the last actors to be cast in the movie.
In a statement to Deadline after Butler was chosen as the star, Luhrman said he was well aware that the movie’s success was tied to the part of Elvis, adding even more pressure in choosing the right candidate. He felt Butler evoked the “singular natural movement and vocal qualities” of his on-screen persona as well as the “inner vulnerability” of Presley. Luhrman said he first was aware of Butler after his appearance in The Iceman Cometh that starred Denzel Washington. “I knew unequivocally that I had found someone who could embody the spirit of one of the world’s most iconic musical figures,” Luhrman surmised.
The director is best known for his Red Curtain Trilogy that contained three films produced by him: Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge. He also was behind the 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby. For Netflix, he worked on The Get Down, which debuted in 2016.