‘I often get 3am calls from Baz Luhrmann’ – Oscar-nominated Irish film editor on how Elvis made him cry
The Irish film editor, who was nominated for an Oscar for his work on the film Elvis, cried in the editing room as he pieced together the final scene from real-life footage of The King.
az Luhrmann’s film about the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was nominated in eight categories at the 95th Annual Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Film Editing.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Jonathan Redmond described how he gave the legendary director the idea of using real-life footage of Presley’s final performance for the film’s emotional crescendo.
The scene begins with Austin Butler, who plays Elvis, seated at a grand piano and seamlessly moves into Presley’s powerful rendition of 1977’s Unchained Melody at the Rushmore Civic Center in Rapid City, South Dakota. So compelling is Butler’s portrayal that many cannot tell when the film will cut to the true king.
Redmond, from Sandycove, Co Dublin, said: “The ending of the film is unique because we started editing five years ago before we had a script.
“As part of the pitch, I edited together this final sequence of Elvis when he was young and beautiful, plus footage of him with Lisa-Marie when she was born, and then footage of his last performance singing Unchained Melody, What I found on YouTube of all places.
“I cried when I put it together. That sequence still grabs me today. It’s so emotional to see this man who’s about to die and who doesn’t look good and can’t speak properly, but then he sits at the piano and sings like a god.
“It’s such a tragic piece of footage. And yet it is considered one of his finest performances of all time, which is extraordinary given the state he was in and what happened shortly after.”
Redmond, who is nominated along with his associate editor Matt Villa, has worked with Luhrmann for more than 20 years on films including Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby.
Of what makes a great editor, Redmond said it comes down to “really caring about the project.”
“Working with directors like Baz is more of a calling than a job. You don’t just show up, work nine to five, and then go to the pub to meet your friends. It’s all-encompassing.”
Describing Luhrmann’s incredible work ethic, Redmond added, “I often get calls from Baz at 3am.
“One of the most notable was when we were making The Great Gatsby. We were trying to use a Prince song and Prince was in Sydney at the time doing a concert and Baz called me at 3am and said, ‘Jonathan! Prince is on my doorstep. He wants to come in and watch some footage – are you awake?’
“At the Moulin Rouge I worked 140 hours a week and if I finished by 10 it would feel like half a day. It’s a little more relaxed now, but you still work a seven-day week. There are a lot of ‘all-nighters’ especially just before a performance.”
Their experiences together were “amazing”: “It was so much fun with Baz. I was editing on a boat off Fiji, I was filming in a helicopter in New York [the supermodel] Giselle drives over the Queensboro Bridge [for the Chanel Number Five ad campaign].
“It’s always been an adventure and it’s great because I never wanted to be an editor who sits in a room until someone knocks on the door and hands you a hard drive and says, ‘Edit that.’ That’s the only thing I love about Baz – it’s anything but that.”
The couple originally met in Australia while Redmond was backpacking with friends. Redmond had worked on U2 tours and was approached by an American manager familiar with his work.
He offered Redmond to work with Luhrmann. Redmond said: “I cringe now, but I really didn’t know Baz and the idea of a musical wasn’t appealing, but this manager said, ‘You’re crazy. this is an amazing opportunity.” So I tried it and he was right.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/i-often-get-3am-phone-calls-from-baz-luhrmann-oscar-nominated-irish-film-editor-on-how-elvis-reduced-him-to-tears-42317667.html ‘I often get 3am calls from Baz Luhrmann’ – Oscar-nominated Irish film editor on how Elvis made him cry