Lisa Marie Presley Slammed Priscilla Movie Before Her Death, Here’s Why

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

Variety reports that, before her tragic and untimely passing, Lisa Marie Presley voiced strident disapproval of the representation of her father, Elvis Presley, in the script for Sofia Coppola’s film Priscilla. The film, an adaptation of Priscilla Presley’s memoir, Elvis and Me, courted controversy with its portrayal of Elvis, a depiction of her father Lisa Marie took issue with. 

Lisa Marie Presley Writes The Priscilla Director

Variety obtained two emails from Lisa Marie to Coppola, a communique characterizing the script as “shockingly vengeful and contemptuous.” Lisa Marie voiced concern that the movie would jeopardize her delicate relationship with her mother, Priscilla, and condemn her family to painful public scrutiny. This unwanted press attention would likely be challenging in light of the family’s mourning the passing of Lisa Marie Presley’s son, Benjamin Keough, who passed away in 2020. 

Priscilla Shows The Darker Side Of Elvis And Priscilla’s Relationship

The biopic centers around the relationship between Elvis and Priscilla, a courtship beginning when she was 14 and he was 24. Critics have, of course, noted that age gap. Lisa Marie voiced criticism that the script portrayed her father as “a predator and manipulative.” Such implications have indeed led some to claim that her father groomed her mother. The depiction of her father, she wrote, differed immensely from the actual person, in addition to her own mother’s perspective on him. 

Lisa Marie Presley Vowed To Fight Against The Movie

lisa marie presley

For her part, director Coppola went to great lengths to ensure that her project handled the depiction of Lisa Marie Presley with sensitivity, care, and tact. In turn, Lisa Marie was skeptical and proactive—stating she would openly challenge both the film and her mother, who both functioned as an executive producer and took part in the film’s promotion. 

The emails between Lisa Marie Presley and Sofia Coppola were exchanged slightly prior to the beginning of production for Priscilla before any film had been shot. An anonymous source close to the project reveals genuine efforts to tweak the narrative of the memoir and underplay some of the more startling aspects of Elvis and Priscilla’s courtship. This was accomplished by emphasizing Priscilla’s difficulties adjusting to life with such an unbelievably famous icon. 

Priscilla Is Lauded At The Venice Film Festival

When the film premiered at the Venice Film Festival, it achieved critical acclaim. It furthermore sparked conversations about the psychological dynamics of Elvis and Priscilla’s relationship, though the debate surrounding the film’s impact on Elvis’s legacy has been divided. While some critics and fans side with Lisa Marie Presley and criticize the film, others consider its implications to be that Elvis was a “groomer” and call into question the ethicality of the relationship between Elvis and Priscilla. 

Lisa Marie Presley Viscerally Fought To Preserve Her Father’s Legacy

Lisa Marie Presley expressed that modern interpretation of the subject matter wouldn’t align with her mother’s intentions. Nor, Lisa Marie argued, would the portrayal do any favors for the Elvis legacy, one she strives to preserve. Notably, The King’s daughter appealed to Coppola’s unique, personal understanding of the weight and nature of family legacies (Sophia Coppola’s father is, after all, Francis Ford Coppola). Surely, Sofia Coppola could understand the enormous personal impact such portrayals can have. 

Ultimately, Lisa Marie Presley’s emails highlight the profound ramifications of—and complex interplay between—biographical representation (however artistic) and family legacy.