So offended Elvis family blast new Baz Luhrman film: We wont let them do this to us
Elvis Presley performs ‘Hound Dog’ in 1956
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The new movie hits cinemas this week. It tells the history of the boy from Tupelo Mississippi who became the biggest star in the world, with Austin Butler already receiving universal praise as The King. However, the man who was in the car from Tupelo to Memphis alongside a 13-year-old Elvis and spent 34 years of his life by his side has hit out at the biopic. Eight years younger, Billy Smith is the star’s cousin on his mother’s side. The son of Gladys’ brother Travis, he grew up alongside Elvis and later lived behind Graceland and then became a central part of the Memphis Mafia. He and his wife Jo were with Elvis playing raquetball and listening to him sing at the piano just hours before his death.
In a new post, Billy and Jo have both blasted the way they have been treated by the makers of the movie itself and then its promotion and premieres, even though they were with the star more than anyone else in his life except his father, Vernon.
They were responding to a post from The King’s long-term girlfriend Linda Thompson, who said: “Since so many people are left out who were very important and instrumental in Elvis’ life – I wouldn’t call it a biopic… Any inclusion or exclusion in any movie ever made can never erase the important role I played in his life and he in mine. But every true fan already knows that.”
Billy wrote: “We agree with everything that Linda said. It is true and everyone that was with Elvis knows it! We haven’t seen the movie either and don’t know that we will. It is a shame so many people were left out.
“I feel as Linda (does), no matter how hard they try they can NEVER take away the part I played in Elvis’ life.
“I came from Tupelo in the same car with him to Memphis and was close to him for the rest of his life.
“I loved him more than anyone will ever know. Jo and I were with him until the end of his life and were honoured to be part of it.”
ELVIS: Official second trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s movie
Billy and Jo frequently take part in their son Danny’s Memphis Mafia Kid YouTube channel but also have their own Facebook page, pointedly called Elvis Fans Matter.
Jo added even more furious words to Billy’s post: “I feel very offended that Billy and I were not invited to the premiere but I guess we are not sophisticated enough to be included, as were other members of Elvis’ friends and family also left out.
“So be it, at least I will not stand around with my lips all puckered up and looking like I just swallowed a fart!”
There has been intense speculation whether her last comment is also a dig at someone very close to Elvis and the new film.
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Jo added: “We were told Billy was portrayed in the movie, he was never interviewed or even contacted about it, but Billy should have been invited since it was in Memphis and others that were not even close to Elvis were invited…
“We will always love Elvis and will remain truthful and thankful for all of you fans that love him too.”
A flurry of messages of support from fans included: “I agree with you Jo,it was hurtful and rude.”
Kimberley Marie said: “Elvis wouldn’t be having this right now!! He would be VERY LIVID with how his mother’s side of the family is being treated! This isn’t right!!!! This is so disrespectful on so many levels! It’s very heartbreaking to see.”
By contrast, Priscilla Presley, who has been involved in the promotion of the film, tweeted: “I’ve seen Elvis the film, I watched the trailer over a dozen times. But the words I heard from my daughter (Lisa Marie Presley) on how much she loved the film and that (Lisa’s daughter) Riley will love it too when she sees it brought tears. I relived every moment in this film. It took me a few days to overcome the emotions as it did with Lisa. Beautifully done.”
ELVIS IS OUT IN CINEMAS ON JUNE 24
ELVIS FANS MATTER FACEBOOK PAGE
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