Baz Luhrmann Recalls Being Days Away From Filming Elvis Presley Biopic When Tom Hanks Got COVID-19

Detailing on what he had done after his leading man tested positive, the Hollywood filmmaker claims to have scrutinized video he had taken to identify ‘who exactly had touched’ or was near the actor.

AceShowbiz -Director Baz Luhrmann was just four days away from shooting the first scene for his new “Untitled Elvis Presley Biopic” when Tom Hanks fell ill with the coronavirus and the set was shut down.

The filmmaker tells Deadline he was rehearsing a scene, in which hundreds of girls kiss Elvis Presley, played by Austin Butler, when he learned Hanks was sick.

“The interesting thing is, we’d had a very quiet incident a month earlier, where everyone was staying,” Baz recalls. “There was a family that had it (COVID-19 virus). That connected us very closely with Dr. Wattiaux, a Gold Coast public health physician in Queensland, and the premier (Annastacia Palasczuk). I’ve worked very closely with her, and she’s great and she’s the equivalent of the governor of Queensland.

“So I’m getting ready to begin shooting on a Monday, and it’s a scene where basically hundreds of girls are kissing Elvis… Tom (Hanks) guides him through the crowd… We were rehearsing camera positioning, everything, and I’d done all the tests, Austin, Tom, and the whole cast was on fire. We were that close… The world knows what happened next.

“Tom and (wife) Rita (Wilson) handled it all so well, and we were so fortunate we had this direct connection with the head of infectious diseases, because it was an immediate shutdown… They were right on it.

“If there was anything good about it, the very best thing that came out of it was when someone like Tom Hanks got it, I noticed that globally and particularly in America… suddenly everyone went, ‘This is real!’ He became an advertisement for it.”

Luhrmann recalls scrutinising video he had taken, so he could identify “who exactly had touched Tom”, or “who had been near him for X amount of time”.

“Everybody who was in the footage – and that included Austin and myself – we were 100 per cent quarantined for 14 days, no contact with anybody,” Baz adds. “I was in my house and we were locked down entirely. A team turned up in hazmat suits and we were tested. We wouldn’t have been immediately infectious, but poor Tom and Rita, they were in the hospital. They (authorities) did really good tracing work by looking at the footage. Some of the players were extras, but they tracked everybody down and they quarantined everyone who had real contact with Tom.

“We never had one more infection in the entire crew.”

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