Lisa Marie Presley described Sofia Coppola's Priscilla script as “vengeful and contemptuous” in its depiction of her father, Elvis Presley. Elvis and Priscilla's only daughter passed away earlier this year at the age of 54, days after a photographer took the picture above.
Variety exclusively obtained two emails from Lisa Marie Presley in which she pleads with Coppola to reconsider her depiction of Elvis and spare her family further public embarrassment. Lisa Marie didn't want to strain her already fragile relationship with her mother or bring more public attention on Elvis' living grandchildren, especially after the loss of Lisa Marie's son, Benjamin Keough, in 2020.
Priscilla explores the controversial courtship between Elvis and Priscilla in 1959 when he 24 and she was 14. “My father only comes across as a predator and manipulative,” Lisa Marie wrote in one of her missives. “As his daughter, I don’t read this and see any of my father in this character. I don’t read this and see my mother’s perspective of my father. I read this and see your shockingly vengeful and contemptuous perspective and I don’t understand why? I will be forced to be in a position where I will have to openly say how I feel about the film and go against you, my mother, and this film publicly.”
Coppola responded through a representative, “I hope that when you see the final film you will feel differently, and understand I’m taking great care in honoring your mother, while also presenting your father with sensitivity and complexity.” Priscilla is based on Priscilla Presley's book Elvis and Me. Coppola describes Priscilla's role on the film as executive producer.
Lisa Marie Presley Expressed Concern That Her Mother Didn't Understand the Possible Repercussions of Priscilla
The official description of Priscilla reads, “Sofia Coppola presents a view of Priscilla’s time with Elvis from the mysterious interior. The tale unfolds like an intimate memory from a childlike, dreamy, but eventually widening point of view, as Priscilla lives out an alternately tantalizing, suffocating, and transforming fantasy, and experiences a singularly American coming-of-age. Her story spans from age 14—when she first meets Elvis as a bored, lonely Air Force brat living in Germany—to 24, when she departs the candy-colored dreamland of Graceland as a young mother hungry to explore her own unwritten future.”
“I am worried that my mother isn’t seeing the nuance here or realizing the way in which Elvis will be perceived when this movie comes out,” Lisa Marie Presley wrote in one of her emails. “I feel protective over my mother who has spent her whole life elevating my father’s legacy. I am worried she doesn’t understand the intentions behind this film or the outcome it will have.”
Addressing Coppola — the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola and cousin of Nicolas Cage — directly in an email, Lisa Marie wrote, “I would think of all people that you would understand how this would feel. Why are you coming for my Dad and my family?”
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Coppola said, “I try not to be judgmental of any of the characters and really be as sympathetic as I can to each of them. And I’m really focused on [Priscilla's] perspective, but even with the parents, you’re like, ‘How can anybody let their kid go live with Elvis that young?’”
Priscilla opens in theaters nationwide on November 3.