The Ab Fab star, 69, became a fan of Elvis, who would have been 80 this year, when she was a child.
She says she felt such deep connection with the King of Rock 'N' Roll and reckoned that if they ever met they would “obviously” have married.
The actress went on a tour of Elvis’s haunts and interviewed the singer’s former wife Priscilla for the filming of her new documentary Elvis And Me, which focuses on his rise to fame and the early years of his success.
Elvis Presley (AP)
She says: “I felt if I’d met him, I’d have obviously married him. And the fact that Priscilla was gorgeous when she was 14, and I was a spotty nerd, was beside the point. Everybody in the world felt – if I’d met Elvis, I would have been his best friend, girlfriend. Everybody.”
On interviewing Priscilla, who met Elvis at the age of 14 and married him at 21, Joanna said: “I loved her. She was extraordinarily generous, very open.
“It’s a long time since Elvis has died, and she’s been asked everything about Elvis. The adoration is such that it is like practically a kind of religion, the love of Elvis.
“And she’s steadfastly had to endure that and make herself strong enough to cope with it. She in her own right is a terrific person, but of course, we only really see her as the Elvis bit.”
Priscilla Presley (Lance Murphey/AP)
She added: “Elvis was always singing to me. Obviously. And even Priscilla, when she wrote a sweet letter after we’d shown the film to her, put: ‘It was such a pleasure to show Joanna around Graceland, the house which ought to have been hers’ – with a smiley face.”
The documentary focuses on the early years of Elvis’s life before his divorce, weight gain, heavy medication use, health deterioration and death in 1977.
In the hour-long documentary, she visits Abbey Road to watch a recording session of the new Elvis album If I Can Dream with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, who are re-doing the backing music to many of his most famous songs.
Joanna Lumley stands by a red Corvette at Gracelands in Memphis, Tennessee, Elvis’s house (Jaimie Gramston/ITV)
She also makes a trip to Tupelo, Mississippi – Elvis’s home town – where she visits the shack where he was born and the hardware shop where he bought his first guitar.
There, she talks to some of the people who knew him, including Sam Bell, who reveals what life was like for a young Elvis growing up in a time of segregation.
Joanna said: “There was something about Tupelo, that I felt him. There was something about the boy there in the hardware shop, and the guitar was there, and you get a feeling going – oh he was only a little kid and this was – it’s still a hardware shop.
“I felt him in the cinema with his black friend Sam, in the cinema, from his childhood, when they would have to go through separate entrances to the cinema, and Elvis would duck under the rope and sit with them. And I loved him for that, because he was only a little boy, and he was colour blind. He didn’t get that, while the country got that, Elvis didn’t get that. And sitting in that little cinema, exactly where they sat – that was something.”
She added: “I feel Elvis and I have always known each other. What I mean is that I found I’d got a bit nearer to him, but there’s something un-knowable about him I think, too.”
Looking back on hearing news of Elvis’s death, she recalled: “I was in Canada. We were filming The New Avengers, we were doing some episodes up in Toronto, and it was absolutely ghastly. It was just ghastly.
Elvis And Me airs on Wednesday at 9.00pm on ITV.
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