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The Stunning Transformation Of Olivia DeJonge

The List logo: MainLogoThe List 6/28/2022 Lauren Cahn
Olivia DeJonge in May 2022 © Cubankite/Shutterstock Olivia DeJonge in May 2022

Actress Olivia DeJonge (pronounced "De-Young") has now reached that moment in her career where fans who have only just discovered her -- thanks to her role as Priscilla Presley in Baz Luhrmann's musical biopic blockbuster, "Elvis," which was released nationwide and in the U.K. on June 24, 2022 -- might be inclined to gush about DeJonge's meteoric rise to overnight success in Hollywood. Those who have been following her career from the beginning will know that's not exactly accurate. 

While it's true that DeJonge has been making inroads into Hollywood ever since she nabbed her first professional acting gig at age eight, it took her years of plying her craft via voiceover work before she landed her first on-screen role (per Daily Telegraph). And while she has been working steadily all along, even while completing most of her primary and secondary school education, most of her projects were pretty obscure until she landed a role in the ensemble teen film thriller, "The Sisterhood of Night."

It's clear that Olivia DeJonge has always had that certain je ne sais quoi. But as you're about to discover, her transformation from Australian schoolgirl with a "flair" for the dramatic -- as some of her teachers may have reported to her parents in her early years (per Daily Telegraph) -- to a full-fledged movie star, fashion icon, and poster girl for women's issues has been really quite stunning. 

Olivia DeJonge Is The Only Actor In Her Family

Olivia DeJonge in one of her first roles - the short film © Vimeo Olivia DeJonge in one of her first roles - the short film

Olivia DeJonge was born in Melbourne, Australia, but she'd moved to Perth by the time she was six years old, according to W Magazine. Neither Melbourne nor Perth are known for being film industry hotspots (unlike, say, Sydney, which The Culture Trip refers to as "Aussiewood"). That makes sense, given that neither of DeJonge's parents appear to be involved in the entertainment industry (though there is little publicly known about the DeJonge family).

What we do know is that Olivia was born to Robyn and Rob DeJonge, a businessman, on April 30, 1998, and is the oldest of two children, per IMDb and Bustle. Not having had any show business role models in the family, DeJonge isn't quite sure when the acting bug hit her, she told the Daily Telegraph in 2015. But she does know it's "always been inside" her. "When I was younger I did lots of plays, put on shows for Mum and Dad, made my brother dress up in ridiculous tutus and whatnot to perform in front of them. ... I think it's a means to self-expression for me. Somewhere I can find myself, if that makes sense."

Her Parents Wholeheartedly Supported Oliva DeJonge's Desire To Act, And She's Grateful

Olivia DeJonge in her first full-length feature © YouTube Olivia DeJonge in her first full-length feature

Olivia DeJonge spent the first eight years of her childhood living the life of an average suburban Australian kid, according to the Daily Telegraph. Upon moving to Peppermint Grove, an affluent suburb of Western Australia's Perth, her parents enrolled her at Presbyterian Ladies' College, a private pre-college preparatory school located in the town. She stayed there all the way through the majority of her last year of high school. It isn't clear whether she graduated, however, because, as The West Australian points out, while her classmates were preparing for their final exams, DeJonge was off on a promotional tour for her first major Hollywood project: M. Night Shyamalan's 2015 film, "The Visit." 

Fortunately, DeJonge's parents were supportive of her burgeoning acting career, as she told W Magazine. Early on, when she expressed an interest, her parents got her started with acting lessons. By the time she was eight, they were taking her to auditions, not to mention the various minor professional acting gigs that she landed, according to the Daily Telegraph. But it wasn't until she was 13 -- when she signed on with Hollywood's esteemed Creative Artists Agency -- that her parents came face-to-face with the reality that their daughter might actually become a star. "I got lucky, though," she told W, "because my parents encouraged me — but they never pushed me."

How Olivia DeJonge Got Her Big Break In Hollywood

Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould in 2015 © Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould in 2015

Oliva DeJonge's professional acting career began when she was eight, as a voice actor, according to IMDb. Her first voiceover gig was in a radio ad for a "prominent hardware chain," presumably in Australia. That led to lots more voiceover work, including as many as 40 radio advertisements overall. But that phase of Olivia's career lasted only until 2010, when she nabbed the starring role in a short film by Australian filmmaker Maziar Lahooti, "Good Pretender," for which she won "Best Actress" at the 24th Annual Western Australian Screen Awards.

Several more roles in other short films materialized for DeJonge over the next few years, but it wasn't until 2012 that big things started to happen. That was the year she was cast in the American feature film, "The Sisterhood of Night," per IMC, which premiered in 2014 (per IMDb). It was also the year she got snapped up by her first Australian agent, according to the Daily Telegraph. She was soon cast in the Australian television limited series, "Hiding," which aired in 2015. 

DeJonge's first "big" break came when M. Night Shyamalan cast her in his quirky, found-footage thriller, "The Visit," per DuJour. Not that there weren't rejections along the way. "I've done more than 70 auditions in about four years," she told PerthNow in 2015. Of course, there were plenty that did not pan out.  

Her Convincing American Accent Fooled M. Night Shyamalan When She Was Cast In The Visit

Kathryn Hahn, Ed Oxenbould, Olivia DeJonge, and M. Night Shyamalan 2015 © Ben Gabbe/Getty Images Kathryn Hahn, Ed Oxenbould, Olivia DeJonge, and M. Night Shyamalan 2015

Although Olivia DeJonge had been acting since age eight, including a substantial body of voiceover work, several short films, an Australian television series, and an American independent feature film, it was her role as Becca in M. Night Shyamalan's film, "The Visit," that served as her first big break, according to DuJour. In the film, which premiered in 2015, DeJonge plays one of two teen siblings whose visit to their grandparents' rural Pennsylvania farmhouse -- which burgeoning filmmaker Becca decides to record "Blair Witch Project"-style on a camcorder -- turns terrifying. The film, which also starred Ed Oxenbould as Becca's younger brother and Kathryn Hahn as the siblings' mom, came to be known as M. Night Shyamalan's comeback film, per Forbes. For DeJonge, it was her golden ticket into mainstream Hollywood cinema. 

"In the leadup, I didn't understand what a big opportunity this was," DeJonge told PerthNow in 2015. "It's definitely starting to hit me that it could be such a huge opportunity." And this was all quite serendipitous, given that DeJonge signed onto the project without even knowing anything about the plot, as she told DuJour. Moreover, Shyamalan hired DeJonge after a lengthy "worldwide search," as she told CinePile, without even realizing that her American accent was a performance in and of itself. "I think when we auditioned he thought we were from Idaho" (per PerthNow).  

Olivia DeJonge Starred In Two Television Series, Both Of Which Were Cancelled After A Single Season

Olivia DeJonge in © Facebook Olivia DeJonge in

After "The Visit," Olivia DeJonge continued working steadily, including a starring role in the 2017 television series, "Will," a punk rock reimagining of William Shakespeare's youth in Elizabethan England. DeJonge plays a rebellious young woman intent on breaking into acting, notwithstanding that Elizabethan society forbade females from appearing on stage (per Deadline). The series was cancelled after one season

Still, it was a step in the right direction for DeJonge, who subsequently scored a supporting role in the Netflix series "The Society," which the The New Yorker described as a "thoughtfully trashy" take on "Lord of the Flies," except that whereas the latter focused on pre-pubescent boys marooned on an island, "The Society" was about teens who return from an ill-fated class trip to find their affluent Connecticut hamlet has been abandoned and cut off from the rest of the world.

"The Society" won critical acclaim (per Rotten Tomatoes), and DeJonge's performance as Elle, a socially-isolated ballet dancer with an abusive boyfriend -- whom Elle ultimately attempts to murder via an anti-freeze-tainted pumpkin pie -- was well-received. According to PopSugar, DeJonge managed to turn Elle into "one of the show's most compelling characters." The series was cancelled after one season, but only because of COVID-related logistical issues, per Variety. In fact, W Magazine wrote that "many viewers are still upset about the show's cancellation."

Olivia DeJonge Auditioned Twice For Her Role As Priscilla Presley In Baz Luhrmann's Elvis

Olivia DeJonge with a likeness of Elvis and a movie poster © Jeremy Chan/Getty Images Olivia DeJonge with a likeness of Elvis and a movie poster

After the cancellation of "The Society, "DeJonge did not miss a beat," according to W Magazine. "Instead, she booked the role of Priscilla Presley in one of the most anticipated films of 2022." We're talking about "Elvis," Baz Luhrmann's musical re-telling of the rise to fame of history's King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Although the central relationship in "Elvis" is arguably the one between Elvis (Austin Butler) and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), DeJonge's performance as Elvis' wife has been touted as one of the strengths of the film, per USA Today

Ironically, Olivia DeJonge had serious doubts about whether she could even get the role, let alone deliver a "spot-on" performance, which is how USA Today described it. "I was desperate to throw my name in there, but I knew that everybody was going for it," as DeJonge told W Magazine. In fact, DeJonge felt so insecure about her audition (which was done via self-tape) that she did something a more seasoned actor might never have dared: She requested a "do-over." She sent it in, and then she did her best to "let it go." After several nail-biting months in which she heard nary a word about the film or who had been cast in it, she assumed the role had gone to someone else. Delightfully, she was wrong.

The Three Years She Spent Making Elvis Were Transformational For Olivia DeJonge

Olivia DeJonge waves at a premiere © Cubankite/Shutterstock Olivia DeJonge waves at a premiere

Pre-production for Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis" began in 2019, according to Movie Insider. DeJonge was already a full-fledged adult with more than a decade of acting experience under her belt. Nevertheless, she likened herself at the start of filming to a "newborn," per Fashion Magazine. Likewise, in an interview with Backstage, she recalled how, coming into the production, she felt like "Bambi." Moreover, she questioned whether she was mature enough in her womanhood to portray Priscilla Presley, whom DeJonge has intimated she views as a veritable icon of femininity.

Accordingly, it may have been comforting to DeJonge that she got to shoot her scenes in linear fashion -- i.e., at the start of production, she was playing Priscilla as a woman younger than even herself, as she recalled to Backstage. Nevertheless, this also had the effect of intensifying DeJonge's "emotional journey," as she puts it. "There's a before 'Elvis' [me] and there's an after 'Elvis' [me]," she explained to Fashion Magazine. "It's a pivotal moment in my life.

DeJonge has also compared the three-years-long journey that comprised the making of "Elvis" to birthing a baby. "We're all like, it's coming, it's coming, it's coming," she recalled in an interview with WWD, of the protracted "labor" the production turned out to be thanks to COVID-related delays (per Variety). And for the avoidance of mixed metaphors, it was DeJonge who was delivered "out of the vortex" as "a changed human being."

What It Was Like For Olivia DeJonge To Portray The Iconic Priscilla Presley

Olivia DeJonge and Priscilla Presley © Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Olivia DeJonge and Priscilla Presley

For Olivia DeJonge, the "scariest aspect" of undertaking the role of Priscilla Presley for Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis" is that Presley is not only the iconic former wife of the iconic titular character, but still very much alive, she told 9Honey. "Honestly, I remember feeling very intimidated when I got the role," she admitted to Vogue. That may be why she felt that not having met Presley before or even during filming probably "worked out for the better," as she told Backstage

When DeJonge and Presley did finally meet, it was at the "Elvis" premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Notwithstanding the 12-minute standing ovation that followed, it was not until Presley and DeJonge sat down later at the festival for a chat that DeJonge could finally relax. "To have her stamp of approval," as DeJonge put it in her Backstage interview, was an enormous relief. 

As it turns out, Presley may indeed have had some of her own reservations when it came to seeing herself portrayed on the big screen. "I'm so happy that she was sensitive and that she was caring and that ... she was a little strong with him as well ... I thought she did a really, really nice job," Presley remarked while being interviewed alongside DeJonge on "Good Morning America." "I was pleasantly surprised," she added unironically, to which DeJonge giggled -- graciously.

How Playing Priscilla Presley Influenced Olivia DeJonge's Style

Olivia DeJonge on a red carpet © Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images Olivia DeJonge on a red carpet

As challenging as it may have been to capture Priscilla Presley's "softness and her strength," as DeJonge described Presley's aura in an interview with Backstage, the physical transformation the role required sounds equally formidable. Hair and makeup took over three hours each day, for example. There were 10 to 12 wigs that she wore over the course of filming, as she told Fashion Magazine, not to mention somewhere between 10 and 20 costume fittings, as she told Vogue. That being said, for DeJonge, "stepping into these costumes, that wig and make-up every day, it really made the rest of the job quite easy because it was so incredibly immersive." It also helped to transform DeJonge into a legit '60s style aficionado. 

"I think it's all coming back ... the '60s mini-skirts with the high boots," she predicted during her Vogue interview. And perhaps it would be a good idea to take DeJonge's word for it, given that she has, at this point, evolved into a full-fledged style icon in her own right, as WWD and Red Carpet Fashion Awards both appear intent on keeping careful track of everything DeJonge has been wearing of late. In addition, Bulgari, the luxe Italian brand, announced in February that DeJonge would join Priyanka Chopra-Jonas and Zendaya, among others, as a celebrity brand ambassador, per Elle Australia.

The Actress Came To Identify With Her Character In The Staircase

Olivia DeJonge in The Staircase © YouTube Olivia DeJonge in The Staircase

At some point during the three years it took to complete Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis," Olivia DeJonge also found herself playing another character based on a living person, per W Magazine. In late 2020, DeJonge joined the cast of "The Staircase, HBO's limited series based on the Netflix documentary of the same name. It follows the family of Kathleen and Michael Peterson in the aftermath of Kathleen's death under suspicious circumstances, including the trial and the making of the Netflix documentary. DeJonge plays Caitlin Atwater, Kathleen's daughter who was a teen when the events began to pay out, and who broke with her step-siblings in coming to side with Kathleen's family members, who continue to maintain that Michael murdered Kathleen. 

"It's so meta," DeJonge told Hype, referring not only to the premise, but also to the challenge of discovering and portraying the real Caitlin Atwater amid the various versions that now exist both in art and in the media. "I think that's your job as the actor, you have to step into their shoes." Apparently, that is precisely what DeJonge did. Although she has stated that the series is more about the process of "[grappling] with what really happened" than with ascertaining the truth itself, when Hype asked DeJonge for her thoughts on Michael's guilt versus innocence, she admitted to a bias towards what Caitlin thinks: "She believes Michael did it, and you kind of need to honor that." 

She's Something Of A Fangirl With Regard To Her Elvis Co-Star, Austin Butler

Olivia DeJonge interacting with Austin Butler © Jeremy Chan/Getty Images Olivia DeJonge interacting with Austin Butler

We won't bother to pretend we haven't heard rumors that Olivia DeJonge was dating her "Elvis" co-star, Austin Butler, all through filming, per MTV Australia and PopSugar. While it wouldn't be our place to say yay or nay, what can certainly be said is that DeJonge has spoken quite highly of her costar. Take, for example, what she told Grazia Magazine about her first day on the "Elvis" set. She had no lines, but she did have the "pleasure of watching Austin" throw himself into the role: "To watch somebody go out on a limb like that and really pull it off was such a masterclass in commitment to the role and being really brave. It was spectacular."

She apparently found him to be rather pleasant to work with as well: "We had a really nice time together bringing these characters to life," she told Bollywood Hungama of her on-set relationship with Butler. "He's a really committed actor with a big capacity to fully immerse himself in another person and I really admire that in him. And he's a really hard worker and I was very inspired by the way he tackled the subject matter and the way that he tackled taking on somebody like this. And also, it's such a big risk-taking on a role like this and I respect the vigor with which he attacked that. And we had a really fun time."

Aww!

Ovaries: Oliva DeJonge Wants You To Talk About Them

Oliva DeJonge talking about ovarian health © YouTube Oliva DeJonge talking about ovarian health

At the age of 24, Olivia DeJonge isn't in a demographic that mainstream medical practitioners advise should be particularly vigilant with regard to ovarian cancer. The Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance states that people under 40 are rarely diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and that two-thirds of those who are diagnosed with it are age 55 or older. Nevertheless, DeJonge has thrown her support behind ovarian cancer awareness. In partnership with Australian clothing brand Camilla and Marc, DeJonge stars in a minute-long public service announcement called "Ovaries: Talk About Them."

In the video, wearing a chicly oversized Camilla and Marc denim ensemble with a crisp white t-shirt, DeJonge looks directly into the camera and explains why ovarian cancer is "personal for all of us," regardless of age, regardless of gender. "I mean, four women a day are diagnosed with ovarian cancer," she says, "and these are our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our best friends, our cousins, our aunties."

It's left unsaid why DeJonge got on board with this particular cause. But arguably, that makes her having done so all the more powerful. And on that note, please do yourself a favor and review these ovarian cancer symptoms that you might otherwise be likely to miss.

Read this next: Actors Who Didn't Want To Kiss Their Co-Stars

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