Elordi in Waiting: Priscilla star Jacob Elordi is rapidly climbing the Hollywood ladder to become Gen Z’s leading man
In the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, where talent and charisma go hand in hand, Jacob Elordi has emerged as a rising star who is captivating audiences worldwide. With his striking looks, undeniable acting prowess and an impressive range of performances, the 26-year-old Australian has quickly made a name for himself in the industry. From his breakout roles in The Kissing Booth films and the hit series Euphoria to being cast as Elvis in the latest exposé of the King of Rock and Roll’s rollercoaster life and loves, he is now one of Tinseltown’s most sought-after talents and a Gen Z idol.
Heart for Art
Born in 1997 in Brisbane, the Gen Z actor showed an interest in the entertainment industry during his childhood. He attended St Joseph’s Nudgee College, a prestigious Catholic school, where he nurtured his acting skills by participating in school productions. After completing high school, he decided to pursue acting professionally and enrolled at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney, which is renowned for producing talented actors.
Having appeared as an extra in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which was shot on Australia’s Gold Coast, his dedication and commitment to his craft paid off when a year later he secured his first film role, at the age of 21, in the Australian comedy Swinging Safari (2018).
Faces and Phases
Elordi’s international breakthrough happened about the same time, as he was cast as Noah Flynn, the bad boy, in the US teenage romance The Kissing Booth. The film’s popularity got him noticed by Hollywood insiders and he reprised his role in two sequels within the next three years.
Determined to make a bigger name for himself, he relocated to Los Angeles after the first film wrapped in 2017. He stayed on a friend’s couch in the San Fernando Valley for a few weeks, then slept in his 2004 Mitsubishi car on Mulholland Drive.
It was a hit-or-miss period in his young life and Elordi rode his luck. “I wasn’t booking jobs,” he recalls of this uncertain time. “I think I had US$400 or $800 left in my bank account – and Euphoria was my last audition before I went home for a little while to make some money and recuperate.”
Fortunately, the stars were aligned as he landed the part of Nate Jacobs in the groundbreaking series. When it came time to film the pilot, however, Elordi continued to rely on his vehicle. After noticing this less than ideal living arrangement, a producer on the show moved him into a room at the Standard Hotel in West Hollywood. “I got really lucky. Which is just an L.A. story, you know?” he says.
For a heartthrob whose friendships with female co-stars Joey King and Zendaya, model Kaia Gerber and YouTuber Olivia Jade Guiannulli are constantly the subject of media speculation, Elordi was proud to take on a gender-bending persona in his youth. At age 12, he was chosen to play Oberon, King of the Faeries, in a production of the Shakespeare comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As might be expected in an Australian school at that time, he had to wear the thickest of skins to face the bullies.
“I did a play and I was called gay at school,” he says. “When they said I was gay, I remember leaning into the makeup [and thinking] if I’m going to be the King of the Fairies, I’m going to be the f—ing hottest King of the Fairies you’ve ever seen.”
The budding actor was motivated by the homophobic bullying because he wanted to disprove his friends’ beliefs about his passion, rather than rejecting it in favour of hobbies they thought were manlier.
“I’m going to show you that’s bulls—,” he vowed at the time of personal mission. “I could never understand, how could you label anything, ever? How could you label sport as masculine? How does your sexuality inform your prowess as an athlete, or your prowess as a performer?”
In line with his debut US film, Elordi confesses that his own first kiss experience was one of the most romantic moments of his life. “Train station in East Malvern, in Melbourne, with a girl named Ruby,” he recalls of the encounter. “We met at, I think, 4:20 sharp. It was a date to meet and kiss. It’s probably still one of the most romantic moments in my life.”
His first celebrity crush may be a little more unexpected. “Brad Pitt, Yeah. I think in Troy,” he says, referencing the epic 2004 film in which the celebrated actor, who turns 60 this month, played the mythological ancient Greek warrior Achilles.
“That’s a beautiful man, there’s no denying it.”
When it comes to romance, Euphoria treads a more unconventional and daring path than the usual teen dramas. The show, which broke the mould for its depiction of drug use and transgender relationships when it debuted in 2019, has a lot of intimate nude scenes. Elordi, who describes Nate as a “sweet, lovable, relatable, giant, 18-year-old psychopath” says the nudity “comes with the territory of the character” who is in an abusive sexual relationship and that he “kind of [has] no choice” to realise the demands of series creator Sam Levinson’s challenging script.
Elordi is currently turning heads as Elvis Presley in the Sofia Coppola film based on Priscilla Presley’s autobiography. When asked if he’s a huge fan of Elvis, the youthful Australian honestly answers no, admitting that the songs in the 2002 Disney animated picture Lilo & Stitch were probably his first exposure to the rock icon’s music.
He was reportedly in a head-to-head battle with Austin Butler – who clinched a Bafta award in Baz Luhrmann’s acclaimed 2022 biopic – for the role of Elvis, but got the nod to step into those famous blue suede shoes. “I thought nobody was going look quite like Elvis, but Jacob has that same type of magnetism. He’s so charismatic, and girls go crazy around him, so I knew he could pull off playing this type of romantic icon,” says Coppola, who wrote, directed and produced Priscilla.
This latest movie is somewhat reflective of Jacob Elordi’s own story – a deft breakthrough performance perfectly poised between youthful fantasy and adult reality.