Mandy Walker interview: ‘Elvis’ cinematographer

“There couldn’t be a more perfect person to make this film about such an iconic character,” thought cinematographer Mandy Walker when she was contacted to collaborate with director Baz Luhrmann on “Elvis.” “His epic journey…Baz was the perfect person to do it. So I was extremely excited.” The pair has collaborated multiple times over the past 20 years, including the 2008 film “Australia” starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, and various Chanel fragrance campaigns. Watch our exclusive video interview above.

“Elvis” stars Austin Butler as Elvis Presley along with Tom Hanks as his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. It follows the music icon through his childhood, becoming a rock and movie star in the 1950s and his death in 1977.

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“[Baz] wanted to represent Elvis and the period of American culture that he grew up in, and how he affected American culture” Walker explains. “He gave me plenty of early storytelling ideas that I could go off and start researching. I was there for Austin’s audition too, so he gets me really early. I was running around with my camera looking at angles on Austin’s face and going back and showing Baz, saying, ‘this three-quarters looks more like Elvis.’ Then I did a lot of research on the existing footage that you can see online now. The NBC ’68 special and ‘That’s the Way It Is.’ I knew that I would have to reproduce those sequences in the movie.”

“I made two different lenses for the movie,” Walker explains. “The first set of lenses was more spherical and flatter, and more representative of still photography. Once he gets to Vegas we shot anamorphic. I had lenses made that had all the old, early 70s aberrations put back into them because modern anamorphic lenses have a cleaner style and a cleaner finish.”

While filming, Walker says witnessing Butler become Elvis was a highlight for everyone. “It was like we were watching a star perform,” she says. “He’s so amazing! He just has it. He’s so charismatic, as well as being a really nice guy, I have to say. He’s a lovely person. That experience, I felt really special.”

“Elvis” was released by Warner Bros. Pictures and is currently available to stream on HBO Max.

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UPLOADED Nov 29, 2022 1:30 pm