Lisa Marie Presley Found ‘Priscilla’ Script to Be “Shockingly Vengeful and Contemptuous”
Apparently, not every Presley was a fan of Sofia Coppola‘s Priscilla script., the late Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis Presley’s only daughter, found Coppola’s portrayal of her father to be “shockingly vengeful and contemptuous” and reached out to Coppola just months before her death, asking her to reconsider.
Lisa Marie Presley died on January 12, 2023, after suffering cardiac arrest that was caused by a small bowel obstruction. Four months before her death, Presley reached out to Coppola regarding the filmmaker’s then-upcoming biopic Priscilla—about her mother, Priscilla Presley, and her relationship with Elvis, which began when the musician was 24 and his future wife was just 14 years old. Per Variety, Presley sent two emails to Coppola asking the Oscar winner to reconsider the portrayal of her father in her film.
“My father only comes across as a predator and manipulative,” read Presley’s e-mail. “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?” Per Variety, Presley’s e-mails referenced her “fragile relationship” with her mother, Priscilla, as well as the renewed attention her grandchildren— Finley Lockwood, Harper Lockwood, and actress Riley Keough— would receive due to the film as they were still in the midst of mourning Lisa Marie’s son Benjamin Keough, who died in 2020.
According to Variety, the two e-mails were sent four hours apart on September 2, 2022, weeks before Priscilla was set to begin shooting on October 24, 2022. Presley’s distaste for Coppola’s script was such that she was prepared to publicly denounce Coppola, the film, and her own mother, who served as an executive producer on Priscilla. “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,” she wrote.
Priscilla Presley has been wholly supportive of the film, which is based on her own memoir, and has participated in a slew of press surrounding Priscilla for A24, the film’s distributor. She has appeared in-person at multiple events with the film’s stars: Jacob Elordi, who plays Elvis, and Cailee Spaeny, who portrays Priscilla. Recently, Presley said that Elordi’s Elvis voice “stunned” her with its accuracy.
Presley was worried that her mother would not recognize the way in which the public perception of Elvis might change due to the film. “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 wrote in 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.” Some of the public discourse about the film has focused on Elvis and Priscilla’s decade-wide age gap, and Priscilla’s status as a minor when they first met. However, Priscilla has maintained in interviews that she and Elvis did not have sexual relationship when she 14.
“I would think of all people that you would understand how this would feel,” wrote Presley, referring to Coppola‘s status as the daughter of a famous father—in her case, The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola. “Why are you coming for my Dad and my family?”