Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have been diagnosed with COVID-19/Coronavirus,and the first thing some fans are wondering is what, exactly, he was doing in Australia shooting a movie about Elvis Presley, a man who passed away at an age younger than Hanks is now, or was 20 years ago. The answer is pretty simple: he was working with acclaimed filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, best known for movies like Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet. The filmmaker has been developing an Elvis biopic for years, and recently got production underway with Austin Butler (Yoga Hosers, The Dead Don't Die) as Elvis and Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker.
Relatively little is known about the specifics of the film, since Luhrmann tends to keep a pretty tight rein on his sets. It was expected to open in October 2021, and it is not yet clear how long production will remain shut down for, or whether the delay will force Warner Bros. to shift the release date of the movie.
"We have been made aware that a company member from our Elvis feature film, which is currently in pre-production in The Gold Coast, Australia, has tested positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus)," Warner Bros. said in a statement. "We are working closely with the appropriate Australian health agencies to identify and contact anyone who may have come in direct contact with the individual. The health and safety of our company members is always our top priority, and we are taking precautions to protect everyone who works on our productions around the world. The individual who tested positive for COVID-19 is currently receiving treatment."
The spread of COVID-19 has been designated as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, with Hanks being the first A-list celebrity known to be diagnosed with it. Given his stature, fans have been predictably stunned and worried.
Earlier tonight, the National Basketball Association announced that it would suspend the season after a Utah Jazz player was diagnosed with the virus, while the NCAA has decided to finish March Madness with nobody in the stands to avoid the spread of the virus among crowds. US President Donald Trump tonight announced sweeping travel bans, and so far a number of large gatherings, including Emerald City Comic Con, South By Southwest, ACE Comic Con, and Coachella have all been cancelled or postponed.
Hanks can next be seen in Greyhound, will open on June 12 -- recently moved from its planned May 8 release. Hanks will also appear in Amblin/Universal's sci-fi movie BIOS and the Universal Studios feature News of the World.