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Luke Bracey recalls going 'toe to toe' with Tom Hanks in 'Elvis' movie

"That was probably the challenging thing, working with one of the great actors of our generation and having to go toe to toe with him," he told TODAY.

On June 24, Luke Bracey will transport fans back to a time when Elvis Presley ruled the airwaves.

The 33-year-old actor will play Presley's beloved friend Jerry Schilling in the new "Elvis" biopic starring Austin Butler as the King of Rock 'n' Roll, Olivia DeJonge as Priscilla Presley and Tom Hanks as Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

Luke Bracey as Jerry Schilling in "Elvis."
Luke Bracey as Jerry Schilling in "Elvis."Warner Bros., Getty Images

“The one thing I loved about Jerry as a character and who he is as a man is that he’s a really good friend," Bracey told TODAY. "He’s a really good mate to Elvis. He’s one of the few people that didn’t ever want anything from Elvis and just kind of wanted the best for his friend."

Bracey noted that he "thoroughly enjoyed" his role even though he never met the talent manager, 80, in real life.

"I was just like, OK, I don't know if he's happy or sad that this is happening or because I'm the one doing it, but I'll just try and make him look cool and look like a nice guy," he said.

While trying his best to do his character justice, Bracey found himself having a pinch-me moment when he had to shoot a confrontational scene with Hanks and go "toe to toe" with the two-time Academy Award-winning actor.

I think if you enjoy something, no matter how much work or the process of going into it, it doesn't really seem difficult.

Luke bracey

Although he acknowledged that it was "challenging" at first, Bracey said that Hanks was very "encouraging to everyone around him" and the pair even shared a laugh on-set.

"I think if you enjoy something, no matter how much work or the process of going into it, it doesn't really seem difficult if you're enjoying it. I know the hard bits were kind of the fun bits as well," he said.

Bracey added, "It's kind of a surreal moment when you're working with someone that you've watched many, many times on TV and you get to kind of stand up to them and play the game with them."

It's hard to believe that Bracey wasn't a part of the cast at first. When the film stopped production during the coronavirus pandemic and later resumed in Australia, where Bracey is from, director Baz Luhrmann decided to reach out to the "Dance Academy" alum for a role that just happened to open up.

"I’m not sure exactly what happened or who was cast as Jerry before me, but in terms of the process, I was quite fortunate," he said. "I just received an email saying that Baz Luhrmann wanted to call me on the telephone and talk to me about this. And I was like, 'Oh, wow, OK.'"

Their call lasted for about an hour and once they got off the line, Bracey learned he had to make plans to go to the Gold Coast.

"It was certainly quite unexpected and a bit of a shock, but I’m just so thankful for it," he said.

On-set, Bracey got to see firsthand how Butler depicted Presley. While he was amazed at how Luhrmann got "400 people" to dress like it was the height of the 1960s, he was even more impressed by Butler's acting.

Not only did Butler show what Presley's life was like on stage, but he also showed the hardships that the "Jailhouse Rock" singer went through behind the scenes, and that meant a lot to Bracey.

Austin Butler as Elvis Presley in "Elvis."
Austin Butler as Elvis Presley in "Elvis."Alamy Stock Photo

"It's a really great performance and to watch that every day was really enjoyable and just quite a thrill," he said. "There's so much work he put into it. It's no mistake that he does a great job because he worked really really hard. And I think he does an unbelievable job."

However, Butler isn't the only one who has been praised for his acting.

Bracey heard through the grapevine that Schilling caught his performance and approved of how he was depicted.

"I heard that he saw it and he liked it," Bracey said. "He's a really honorable guy," he added.

"Elvis" is set to hit theaters on June 24.