Riley Keough, who is the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley and granddaughter of Elvis Presley, is opening up about grief one year after her younger brother, Benjamin Keough, died by suicide at age 27.
The 32-year-old actor appeared on the “Just for Variety” podcast hosted by Marc Malkin this week, using the end of their segment to discuss the aftermath of the loss her family suffered last year.
“I think when you're in grief, everything for the first time hits you,” the "Zola" star said. “It’s like, ‘Oh I'm experiencing this in grief now.’ It's the little things at first, like I'm going to the grocery store in grief. Never done that before. And then it's like, 'I'm going back to the gym in grief.' And so you kind of have to re-experience everything in grief all over again until you've kind of done everything in grief in my experience.”
Keough described returning to set for "The Terminal List" while grieving as a new experience to learn how to navigate. Two days into being back on set, she said going back to everything being untouched was a “bizarre” experience.
“It’s weird… you're back in your office, so to speak, but your brother's gone,” she said.
She admitted that she had preconceived notions about suicide, so when Benjamin passed away in July 2020, she began posting videos on Instagram to “share that the people you’d never know would take their life can take their life” and set out to take away the bias surrounding suicide
“There's not one version of it,” she added. “And our scenario… I never would have imagined. It wasn't something that I saw coming… I think people have these ways they imagined mental health looking, and I think that really for me is what I had always wanted to communicate by him. Everyone that knew him knew that, but he was just a magical person.”
Since her brother’s death took her by shock, Keough has said that she is trying to talk about it when she can because she finds people not talking about death “frustrating” as it’s something that we will all have to face one day.
“As much as I can I bring it into conversations if it's appropriate, obviously, but particularly with people who have gone through similar situations because I did, and I saw how uncomfortable it made people,” she said. “No one really knew what the right thing to say was. There's so much, ‘Oh I don't want to talk about that. I don't know if we should say it. Should I say it or should I not talk?’ And I'm just very much like yes, talk about it. I want to talk about my brother.”
Keough has remembered her brother on what would have been milestone moments throughout the last year after she penned a heartbreaking tribute to him after his death. Less than a month after he was laid to rest at Graceland, she honored her brother on what would have been his 28th birthday, simply captioning an Instagram post that contained a multitude of family memories, “Happy birthday beautiful angel.”
“Words can’t describe how painful it is,” she wrote in part. “I’m thinking of everyone whose lost someone they love and everyone else whose first Holiday it is with grief and without the person they love. And I’m also thinking of all of the beautiful people who can’t be here with us in physical form and sending them my love wherever they may be, not too far away.”
During the episode, Keough and Malkin got on the topic of her grandfather, Elvis Presley, after discussing similarities between country singer Orville Peck’s voice to the "King of Rock and Roll." When asked if she listened to her grandfather's music, Keough answered honestly, “I don’t put it on.”
“If it’s on, I’ll listen to it,” she added shortly after. “There’s definitely emotion around it. There was definitely a lot of grief around it growing up, especially seeing my mom and my grandma. There was a sad thing, tragic kind of a thing… so there was definitely that relationship to it. And I could see from a young age that it would make my mom sad. And so I could feel that.”
Though listening to her grandfather’s music isn’t a conscious choice, Keough said. “It’s definitely an emotional experience, especially if it’s one of the more emotional songs. The more gospel stuff, definitely makes me emotional. But I will listen to it if it’s on, I just don’t go putting it on.”
For her next role in "Daisy Jones and the Six," Keough will be singing, and Malkin pointed out the first thing audience members will look for and listen to are any similarities between her and her iconic grandfather.
So, is she like Elvis when she sings?
"I am not," Keough quickly responded. "My voice is not like Elvis but I'll tell you what, I just recently learned that I do have kind of a country voice. I realized that the other day in the studio.
"I have a weird voice... but it's fun and I love it and I am always interested in trying things. I have a weird thing where I don't care if I fail at things, and that has been really helpful in this process."
If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.