Diane Sawyer Interview with Lisa Marie Presley (2003)



Diane Sawyer: We have spent a lifetime looking at her and never really known her at all. The shy daughter of "The King" of rock 'n' roll. But now, in a stunning move, the girl we've only known from the photos is finally speaking out on her own. At the age of 35, she has a new album, her first. It's called To Whom It May Concern.
Little nervous?

Lisa Marie Presley: Very, yeah.

Diane Sawyer: Not surprising, when you're the daughter of Elvis Presley, but for everyone out there who's wondered if she has a voice, well listen. This is her answer. But you can't help thinking, she looks like Elvis.
Do you see it?

Lisa Marie Presley: Honestly, yes, I've seen it ... but it's not something that I've tried to do. But I have gone, like, "Oh my!" sometimes I would do that, like, "Stop that, what are you doing?" But it's not like I'm trying to fight it either but I can definitely see it.

Diane Sawyer: Does Graceland seem like another world away or does it still seem like home?

Lisa Marie Presley: Graceland is like a time capsule. Nothing has changed, nothing's been touched. It's kind of a sad thing, a life that existed there at one time, and the history, and there was so much life but it's still home to me, very much, when I'm there.

Diane Sawyer: So who is the dad you remember?

Lisa Marie Presley: Just a very special ... I remember him as my dad but he was a very exciting dad.

Diane Sawyer: You talk about his coming down the stairs with jewels.

Lisa Marie Presley: Chains, yeah. And he'd sing all the time.

Diane Sawyer: Did he want you to sing? Do you ever ...

Lisa Marie Presley: Oh yeah, he'd always wake me up to sing in the middle of the night, "Get on the table and sing."

Diane Sawyer: So what was his schedule that you would keep?

Lisa Marie Presley: 4am sleep ? go to bed, 4, 5, get up at 2, 3 in the afternoon.

Diane Sawyer: Do you have the great sandwiches, the great fried banana sandwiches?

Lisa Marie Presley: God, that will never end. No, that's such a ... it's a haunting nightmare that. I never saw him eat one of those, to be honest with you, and I finally just had one. Like, I took a bite about a year ago.

Diane Sawyer: Even now, when she hears her father singing, something seems to flicker across her face. Something that takes you back to the four and five-year-old little girl who loved her glittering dad, but was haunted by the shadows behind the light.
Did you worry about him?

Lisa Marie Presley: All the time. All the time.

Diane Sawyer: What would you say?

Lisa Marie Presley: "Don't die." You know, things like that. Like, "Are you going to die?", and I would just, like, in the middle of whatever say that. He would ... "No, I'm not going anywhere, nothing's going happen to me, don't worry about it" type-thing.

Diane Sawyer: She remembers time with him as magical days. He'd hire a jet to take her just to see the snow or hire a whole amusement park so she could ride the carousel.
Did it feel luxurious?

Lisa Marie Presley: You know, with him no, because it was his heart that was permeating more than ... I'm in a jet and it's, like, this man loves me.

Diane Sawyer: He even recorded lullabies. But as time went on, his sweet daughter became a kind of wild child.
So is your mum a rebel?

Lisa Marie Presley: Not at all. Not at all. No, we're like black and white, she and I. I'm so, like, rahhh and so not ... I'm so the opposite of her. Like, I just broke every social barrier she's ever had. I'm pretty unsolicited, unedited, no-holds barred in my speech patterns and my behaviour. She's a beautiful person, you know, and she's very soft spoken and very sweet and very this ... and I'm just like this, like a bull in a china shop.

Diane Sawyer: Though nothing Lisa Marie Presley would ever do to her mum would equal this.
Okay ? Michael Jackson?

Lisa Marie Presley: Oh, God.

Diane Sawyer: Michael Jackson!

Lisa Marie Presley: I thought you were going to go here first. I was hoping you'd forgot.

Diane Sawyer: Why did you marry Michael Jackson?

Lisa Marie Presley: Okay, can I just, well ...

Diane Sawyer: What were you doing?

Lisa Marie Presley: Um, let me, let me now ... I've been trying to go through this. I haven't thought much about this, what I was going to say and I just figured it would fly out of my mouth. Okay, first of all, he was very quick to ... the first time I met him, sit me down and go, "Listen, I'm not gay. I know you think this, I know you think that", and he started cursing and started, you know, being a normal person. And I was like, "Wow!" So I get caught up in that I'm pulled in right away. Like, "Wow, you're so misunderstood. Oh my God, you're this guy." I fell into this whole, "You poor, sweet misunderstood thing, I'm going to save you." I fell into that. I fell in love with him, I did.

Diane Sawyer: In love?

Lisa Marie Presley: Yes, I fell in love at the time. Now ...

Diane Sawyer: Sexual attraction?

Lisa Marie Presley: I told you everything I said was the truth.

Diane Sawyer: Sexual attraction?

Lisa Marie Presley: At the time. Yeah.

Diane Sawyer: What did your mother say?

Lisa Marie Presley: She called me and said, you know, "Oh Lisa, there's helicopters outside the house and they're saying you married Michael Jackson", and I go ... I was just quiet and she goes, "You didn't?" She goes, "You didn't?" And I go, "Yeah, I did" and then it was just, you know, that was that was game on for me. Whoo! Mum doesn't like it, let's go!

Diane Sawyer: She didn't you know you were going to get married?

Lisa Marie Presley: No, no that was quick, that was like run away and do this quick thing.

Diane Sawyer: And you did live together?

Lisa Marie Presley: Yeah.

Diane Sawyer: I didn't believe that.

Lisa Marie Presley: Well, let's just put it this way, if he was in town, he was at my house.

Diane Sawyer: Which was how often?

Lisa Marie Presley: I don't know. It started to get less and less towards the end.

Diane Sawyer: Again, you can slug me on this question but I've got to go back. So these were, like, romantic nights?

Lisa Marie Presley: Mmm, mmm, yeah. I don't remember them very well, but yes. I mean, it was normal. I wasn't going to get married if it wasn't that.

Diane Sawyer: By the time Lisa Marie Presley married Michael Jackson, Jackson reportedly had been treated for addiction to painkillers. He was also under siege. He had been investigated for child molestation with a 12-year-old boy. Jackson settled a civil suit with the family reportedly for millions of dollars and his camp implied he was the victim of extortion.

Lisa Marie Presley: I was already friends with him, there was already some romantic stuff going on a little bit before that happened. So it was like, I was already like, you know, I was the only one he would be calling so I felt all privileged and, you know, that he was trusting me and telling me what happened and it was very convincing and I believed him, at the time.

Diane Sawyer: But she says her mother looked at the timing of the marriage and tried to make her see something else.

Lisa Marie Presley: That's what my mum was trying to point out like "Hello, are you awake? Can you see this might be co-ordinating or coinciding with something else?" And I didn't see that, like, I was young. I don't know. I mean, it looked a little suspicious but at the same time I know that he loved me, you know, as much as he can love someone, I think he did.

Diane Sawyer: What do you mean as much as he can love someone?

Lisa Marie Presley: I just mean, you know, as much as he can be capable of doing that. It's not something he's used to doing is having relationships with women, you know? He's sort of been a one-man show his whole life.

Diane Sawyer: How did it end? What happened?

Lisa Marie Presley: It just kind of went really sour, really fast.

Diane Sawyer: But you filed for divorce from Michael?

Lisa Marie Presley: Yes.

Diane Sawyer: And how did you tell him that was it?

Lisa Marie Presley: It was when he was, you know, it was over the phone. I'd had enough. There was a lot of stuff going on then. It got really ugly at the end. It wasn't pretty but I don't want to get into it.

Diane Sawyer: Did he fight you getting a divorce?

Lisa Marie Presley: No, he ... I think he got on to, you know, getting somebody else pregnant, right? Or having a baby. That's what he wanted. He seemed to get on that pretty quick. You know, I don't know.

Diane Sawyer: Did it shake your confidence?

Lisa Marie Presley: Yeah, I was pretty much needed to be mopped up off the floor after that one.

Diane Sawyer: And then 108 days of nuptial nitroglycerine with actor Nicolas Cage ... a relationship so tempestuous she reportedly threw her $65,000 engagement ring into the ocean.
You were really in love?

Lisa Marie Presley: With which one?

Diane Sawyer: With Nic Cage?

Lisa Marie Presley: Yeah, I was.

Diane Sawyer: All right, but did you throw a $65,000 ring into the ocean on a boat trip?

Lisa Marie Presley: I did not.

Diane Sawyer: Oh, you didn't?

Lisa Marie Presley: No, I was not the one that threw it. It did go in the water but I wasn't the one who threw it ... and it was more the $65,000!

Diane Sawyer: Okay, so he threw it.

Lisa Marie Presley: I didn't say that, I just said I didn't throw it but we honestly were joking thinking we are the new millennium version of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor at this point. I mean, we are going to knock each other off bar stools.

Diane Sawyer: Why do you marry them when it's like this?

Lisa Marie Presley: You know what it is? It's I get attracted to artists. I'm attracted to artists. I like it when someone's shaking it up, when they're different. I don't know why, I'll never know why but it's just what I get attracted to.

Diane Sawyer: Anyone out there who says "she's loony" ...

Lisa Marie Presley: Yeah.

Diane Sawyer: I mean, how do you explain to them?

Lisa Marie Presley: I'll say it loud and say it proud, I'm completely insane.

Diane Sawyer: Have you figured out why?

Lisa Marie Presley: Um, God ... no. No, I think when I figure out why I might stop and that might be boring.

Diane Sawyer: And she says the wild child has finally grown up. No more impulsive marital adventures.
But, I mean, I guess ... do you say to yourself, "How many more of these am I going to do?"

Lisa Marie Presley: Well, does this answer your question on my finger?

Diane Sawyer: What is this? I can barely ... (laughs)

Lisa Marie Presley: These are two wedding bands and they're on my wedding finger.

Diane Sawyer: Would you like to tell everyone what it says on the wedding bands?

Lisa Marie Presley: I can't.

Diane Sawyer: No, "'blank' you."

Lisa Marie Presley: Yeah. That's kind of where I stand right now.

Diane Sawyer: That like the string on your finger to remind you ...

Lisa Marie Presley: Exactly.

Diane Sawyer: So, inside how old are you?

Lisa Marie Presley: Twelve. That was quick, wasn't it?

Diane Sawyer: Even though her children are now 14 and 11, on the album there is a song for them, too. It's called 'So Lovely' and has a lyric saying "Don't do as I do".

Lisa Marie Presley: I wrote that in my lyrics too. I wrote that song 'Don't Do as I Do'. Please, God, don't let them ... but anyway, yeah. I don't know. I think it's a DNA problem or something, I can't tell. But my own children had to be, like, "Mum, stop it", you know. They're like ...

Diane Sawyer: Oh, really?

Lisa Marie Presley: Oh, yeah!

Diane Sawyer: About what?

Lisa Marie Presley: Because I act like a teenager and they're usually, like, "Stop". I'm just not your average mother, I guess.

Diane Sawyer: So what is it you most want people to say about this album?

Lisa Marie Presley: That it was good, that it was honest, that I have actually some minute talent of my own.

Diane Sawyer: Five years from now, imagine a perfect day for me.

Lisa Marie Presley: It doesn't take much for me to be a perfect day. So long as there's not divorce involved in it, I'm fine.