Olivia DeJonge is an aussie actress, known for playing Tara Swift / Shaneen Quigg in ABC1’s Hiding, Becca in the film The Visit (2015) and Elle in Netflix’s The Society, she was born over in Melbourne before heading over to Perth WA when she was about 5. She was recently on the small screening in the hugely popular series The Staircase starring alongside Colin Firth & our own Toni Colette.
Olivia knew playing Priscilla Presley in Baz Lurhmanns ELVIS is going to be a big deal and shes just riding the whirlwind right now on the press tour around the world. It was great to have a short chat with her about working with Baz, Austin and the pressure of getting Priscilla right.
Take a listen or watch the interview below and don’t forget to also check out our chat with Producer, Costumer/Production Designer Catherine Martin.
Read partial transcript below
AR: Hi Olivia, how are you?
OD: I’m good, how are you?
AR: Good, thanks for taking a minute to chat with me this morning. It’s always nice to see a Perth local smashing it.
OD: Aww, thank you .. It’s nice to talk to another Perth Local. Congratulations on the film.
AR: You look at where you’ve come from and where you are now, like obviously had the staircase come out recently and all that but this is big like how’s the experience been for you?
OD: I mean, you know it’s such a whirlwind? I auditioned for this film when I was twenty, you know, and I just turned 24, so it’s been a hot minute, I think in Elvis world and I think to get it out finally and to have had the support that we’ve been receiving it’s been very, very special and yeah, it’s a huge pinch me moment.
AR: But obviously playing Priscilla Presley is huge in its own right, like I’ve been a big fan of Elvis for a long time and so watching back through old footage on the odd occasion like the other night after I watched the film I had a binge and watched a whole bunch of footage of him, but how did you prepare it? What was your process like?
OD: You know it was a hell of a lot of research obviously, I mean that’s a given I think her voice was very obviously different to my own, so I did a lot of sort of vocal work I suppose I worked a lot with Polly Bennett, our movement coach it’s sort of manifesting her physicality with softness and femininity, I think a big part of her was very soft and feminine so to bring that to the world is very important, but yeah, you know reading her book, reading books written about her watching interviews, it was, yeah, just sort of throw myself into it.
AR: When you’re actually filming, so when you’re on set and like the night before you’re about to go on set, do you have like a routine that you go through?
OD: Sleep is always paramount, that’s always important. I used to listen to her Graceland tour before every night when I would go to sleep. Just because it was, it felt familiar and she has a really beautiful voice so it was important to listen to the cadence and everything else, but yeah, goodnight sleep, maybe a facemask hot tea in the morning you know, just looking after myself I suppose.
AR: And obviously, like you’re working with Baz Luhrmann, he’s an icon of Australian cinema and well worldwide cinema, what was it like?
OD: He’s got an infectious energy, I think one of the first things that I felt when I was around him was sort of, I think, the level that he operates is very, very high, He’s incredibly intelligent, incredibly switched on very curious and he stays curious throughout which I think is a rare quality to have in a person let alone I think a director who’s had such a sort of, you know, acclaimed career ss he did, but yeah, I mean I the first time that I probably met him was actually the first time that I met Austin and we all sat down and we had lunch at his little cabana office that he’d set up in the middle of the studio, and yeah, an incredible energy to be around.
AR: Moving on to Austin, did you get much rehearsal time to bond or to like get to know each other?
OD: For sure, I mean, I think that was really paramount to bringing these two characters to life. We had a lot of discussions Baz, Austin and I about, you know, we wanted them to be sort of like a Bonnie and Clyde sort of energy and we wanted them to feel just like 2 kids in love and less this sort of iconic celebrity couple that we you know remember them by. So yeah, it was pretty easy Austin a great guy and we had a really great time together.
AR: I really loved that scene with you and Austin and we’re, not going to go into spoilers here for people that haven’t watched it, but the scene in the car at the airport is all I’ll say.. It seemed like fairly heavy scene to shoot because of the subject matter you guys were talking about, how was it on the day though?
OD: Yes yes yes.
OD: The funny thing about that scene is that originally wasn’t in the film, it was something that we had put or that Baz had sort of had this idea for a week or two before hand, and once we shot it, we were like how was that not originally in, that film wouldn’t be complete without that scene, I mean, I think you know it’s an incredibly integral reflection of their bond I think in real life too. I’ll never forget I don’t know if you’ve seen the image of them sort of walking out of the divorce proceedings holding hands. I think that you know the fact that she has protected his legacy and his name is such a testament to their love and their connection. So, uhm, yeah an incredibly important scene and I’m so, so happy that that it made it into the final cut.
AR: Yeah, I actually watched an interview with Priscilla last night from a couple of months ago and you can still see there’s a ot of love there every time she talks about him, she lights up and all.
OD: Yeah, absolutely yeah.
AR: Did you have a favorite day on set or a scene that you filmed?
OD: You know, in a lot of interviews I’ve been saying 68 special the comeback special because it was the first time, I got to see Austin in the leather doing the performance. It was incredible.
OD: But honestly as well, my very first day doing a proper scene myself was the first time that we see Priscilla come in at the window, early days in Germany, and that was just really fun because I got to sort of play around and we did a bit of improv that day and it was the 1st time that me and Austin got to get in the ring and sort of play with the chemistry So yeah I would say maybe that day.