Why Elvis director Baz Luhrmann cut Austin Butler’s performance of this Dolly Parton song

Austin Butler and Olivia DeJonge in Elvis
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

A performance of Austin Butler singing Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" was cut from Baz Luhrmann's Elvis.

According to Variety, the scene was meant to come towards the end of the film after Elvis and Priscilla Presley break up and Elvis drops off their daughter, Lisa Marie, at the airport. 

"The script was pretty long, but I always wanted another moment where Priscilla came back into his life and that they were friends. In a way when he walks on that plane and it takes off, we don’t need to see him die, he’s dead," Luhrmann said. He originally wanted Butler to sing the song in the film because Parton herself had always wanted Elvis to cover it, but "the Colonel interceded and he never recorded it." The song was later made famous by Whitney Houston.

"Austin sang ‘I Will Always Love You’ in the back of the car. The scene begins with Priscilla saying, 'It’s a beautiful song,' and he says, 'Yeah, Dolly wants me to sing it, but the Colonel…,'" The director explained. "However, the moment wouldn’t work for the scene and the film, so it was cut. When Austin got out of the car, he looks across at Priscilla and says that line, so that’s where it comes from."

While a director's cut of the film, rumored to be over four hours long, doesn't seem to be coming any time soon – we may get to hear the performance whenever Luhrmann finally decides its time to release.

Elvis is currently streaming on HBO Max.

For more, check out our list of the most exciting upcoming movies in 2022 and beyond.

Lauren Milici
Senior Writer, Tv & Film

Lauren Milici is a Senior Entertainment Writer for GamesRadar+ currently based in the Midwest. She previously reported on breaking news for The Independent's Indy100 and created TV and film listicles for Ranker. Her work has been published in Fandom, Nerdist, Paste Magazine, Vulture, PopSugar, Fangoria, and more.