Priscilla Presley got emotional after watching the biographical film Priscilla, based on the 1985 memoir Elvis and Me that she cowrote with Sandra Harmon.
Presley, 78, was in the audience during the movie’s premiere showing at the Venice International Film Festival premiere on Monday, September 4. Although not initially part of the film festival’s press conference to discuss the drama, she jumped in from the audience to answer a question about what it was like to see her memoir adapted into a movie.
“It’s very difficult to sit and watch a film about you, about your life, about your love,” she said with tears in her eyes. After pausing to collect herself, she continued: “[Director] Sofia [Coppola] did an amazing job. She did her homework, we spoke a couple of times and I really put everything out for her that I could.”
Priscilla, who was married to Elvis Presley from 1967 until 1973, also emphasized that Elvis didn’t take advantage of her youth when they met. (She was 14 at the time and the late musician was 10 years her senior.)
“It was very difficult for my parents to understand that Elvis would be so interested in me and why, and I really do think [it was] because I was more of a listener,” she said at the press conference. “Elvis would pour his heart out to me in every way in Germany: his fears, his hopes, the loss of his mother — which he never, ever got over. And I was the person who really, really sat there to listen and to comfort him. That was really our connection.”
She continued: “Even though I was 14, I was actually a little bit older in life — not in numbers. That was the attraction. People think, ‘Oh, it was sex.’ No, it wasn’t. I never had sex with him. He was very kind, very soft, very loving, but he also respected the fact I was only 14 years old.”
Earlier in the press conference, Coppola, 52, also weighed in on how young Priscilla was when she met Elvis, who died at age 42 in 1977 due to cardiac arrest.
“I can go back to being that age and remember having a crush on an older guy and a rock star,” the filmmaker said. “I just imagined myself in her point of view.”
Priscilla, which stars Cailee Spaeny in the titular role and Jacob Elordi as the iconic musician, marks the second time in less than two years that Elvis’ life has been portrayed on screen. Austin Butler played Elvis in the 2022 Baz Luhrmann biopic of the same name, which Priscilla also approved of.
“It is a true story told brilliantly and creatively that only Baz, in his unique artistic way, could have delivered,” she wrote via Facebook in April 2022, adding that Butler, 32, was “outstanding” in the role.
She continued: “Halfway through the film [Elvis’ friend] Jerry [Schilling] and I looked at each other and said WOW!!! Bravo to him … he knew he had big shoes to fill. He was extremely nervous playing this part. I can only imagine.”
Priscilla and Elvis’ only child together, daughter Lisa Marie Presley, also sang Butler’s praises prior to her death at age 54 in January.
“I’m so overwhelmed by this film and the effect that it’s had and what Baz has done, what Austin has done,” she told the crowd at a Golden Globes pre-party just days before dying of cardiac arrest. “I’m so proud. And I know that my father would also be very proud.”
Priscilla, who also shares son Navarone Garibaldi with ex Marco Garibaldi, shared a statement reacting to the loss at the time.
“It is with a heavy heart that I must share the devastating news that my beautiful daughter Lisa Marie has left us,” the statement read. “She was the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known. We ask for privacy as we try to deal with this profound loss.”
Months after Lisa’s death, her daughter, Riley Keough, and Priscilla reached a settlement over Lisa’s estate in May. Despite speculation of bad blood between Priscilla and her granddaughter amid the legal proceedings, Priscilla has shut down the rumors.
“Riley is now the executor [of the estate], which should be right, obviously, being her daughter,” Priscilla told The Hollywood Reporter in August. “Riley and I are on good terms. We were never not on good terms.”
Keough, 34, also addressed the situation during an interview with Vanity Fair for their September cover issue.
“When my mom passed, there was a lot of chaos in every aspect of our lives. Everything felt like the carpet had been ripped out and the floor had melted from under us,” she explained. “Everyone was in a bit of a panic to understand how we move forward, and it just took a minute to understand the details of the situation, because it’s complicated.”
The Daisy Jones & the Six star added: “We are a family, but there’s also a huge business side of our family. So, I think that there was clarity that needed to be had.”