Lisa Marie’s living legacy: How daughter Riley Keough forged fame without relying on Presley name
Riley Keough isn’t your typical nepotism baby.
Despite being part of one of the most famous families in the world, the 33-year-old granddaughter of rock ‘n’ roll legend Elvis Presley wanted to ‘grow up’ before making her debut into the spotlight on her own terms.
Unlike Hollywood’s many ‘nepo babies’, Riley shies away from her family’s famous name – eschewing Presley in favor of using her father’s surname.
And that is not the only way in which her entry into the heady world of TV and movies has been markedly different from her fellow A-list offspring – not least because of her late mother, Lisa Marie Presley’s determination to shield her daughter from the pitfalls of fame from an early age, in the hopes that she might enjoy a ‘normal’ childhood.
Normality is not something that was often afforded to Lisa Marie, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 54 after suffering a cardiac arrest. However her desire to cultivate a traditional childhood for her children – away from the trappings of the stereotypical Hollywood upbringing – seems to have done wonders for her daughter.
‘She was like, “I don’t want you growing up like another Hollywood celebrity daughter.” She was so not about that life, you know?’ Riley told Nylon magazine in 2016.
Riley Keough, the 33-year-old granddaughter of Elvis, wanted to ‘grow up’ before making her debut into the spotlight on her own terms
Harper Vivienne Ann Lockwood, Lisa Marie Presley, Priscilla Presley, Riley Keough and Finley Aaron Love Lockwood pictured in 2022
‘She didn’t really put attention on it. It was there. We’d get photographed doing stuff, but I didn’t see a tabloid until I was 15.’
In her teens, Riley turned her attention to modelling, walking for Dolce & Gabbana and appearing in Dior campaigns.
But Riley didn’t break out onto the acting scene until she was 20 in 2010’s The Runaways – starring Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart – as Marie Currie, the sister of the band’s lead singer Cherie.
‘I went on a movie set and saw that you don’t have to talk loudly and put on this giant flamboyant show when you’re making a movie,’ she told Women’s Wear Daily.
‘It’s the most comfortable place for me. Obviously the first day of shooting is always really scary, but when I’m doing it, it’s just the best feeling in the world and the most comfortable I am at any point.’
So how did a ‘way too introverted and shy’ little girl turn into one of Hollywood’s most promising stars without trading on her legendary family name?
Designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana walk the runway with Riley in the 2000s
How Lisa Marie wanted Riley to have a ‘normal’ life without the pitfalls of fame while growing up
Being the child of The King made Riley’s mother very aware of what it was like growing up surrounded by fame.
The 33-year-old told InStyle in 2021 Lisa Marie always emphasized the importance of making your own way in life.
‘I grew up with my mom saying, “Anything you do in life, you’re going to have to take it seriously, and work really hard at it, and be really good at it. Don’t just dip your toes into things,”‘ Riley said.
‘Which is my nature anyway, with acting and with things I want to be doing. I also had this thing where, when you grow up in LA and everyone’s acting, I felt this sense of… I was a little bit afraid to fail.’
Priscilla Presley holding her son, Navarone Anthony Garibaldi, alongside her daughter, Lisa Marie, who holds her daughter, Riley
Riley shared this photo of her and her late brother, Benjamin, together on Instagram
Pictured in 2022 are Riley with Lisa Marie, Navarone Garibaldi and brother Benjamin Keough
Another childhood photo of Riley and Benjamin. She posted this photo in a 2021 tribute to her brother
A black and white photo of the siblings together. Their mother wanted them to have a ‘normal’ childhood
In 2007, Riley, then 18, appeared on Oprah with her mother who gushed about her daughter forging her own career after having success as a model.
‘I didn’t want them to lose their own identity. I just wanted them to be raised normally. We have more conversations about him (Elvis) now because she’s older,’ Lisa Marie said.
‘I didn’t want her to have that shadow where she felt in competition and intimidated by anything. I wanted [my children] to be able to do what they wanted to do.
‘I was raised to never flaunt being who I am… I kind of raised them the same way, just do your thing, stay who you are, be appreciative of it.’
In the same interview, Riley also revealed her family didn’t make a ‘huge thing’ when showing her photos of her iconic grandfather.
Appearing on Oprah together in 2007, Riley, then 18, appeared with her mother
In the same interview, Riley also revealed her family didn’t make a ‘huge thing’ when showing her photos of her iconic grandfather
‘I didn’t want them to lose their own identity. I just wanted them to be raised normally,’ Lisa Marie said. Oprah pictured right with Lisa Marie and Riley
When her mother’s relationship with her father, musician Danny Keough, broke down, Riley was about the age of six and it meant moving around a lot, so the actress ended up with a ‘weird relationship’ with school.
‘I think I kind of always felt out of place, and I always felt like I would miss things,’ Riley recalled to InStyle.
‘I felt like I was behind – I’d get into a new school, and then I would have to leave, and then I wouldn’t keep up with the curriculum, and then I’d have to go to another school. This is when I was very little.
‘So I kind of just gave up, and I home-schooled, and then I kind of gave up on that too. I didn’t graduate high school.
Riley poses during the Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2004 Ready To Wear Collection Runway Show
Mother and daughter with designers Stefano Dolce and Domenico Gabbana in 2003
‘But it’s a shame, because I really wanted an education, and I really wanted to go to college, I just didn’t have a lifestyle that would permit that.’
Riley told The Guardian she ‘grew up very privileged with my mother.’
‘But my dad didn’t live like that. And I think experiencing both sides has been helpful. My father had mattresses on the floor of his apartments. He lived in cabins and trailer parks. He just didn’t have much money,’ she said.
‘My memories of growing up with him were so colorful and eccentric and fun. It was a good vibe, you know? When I was like eight I told him, “I want to grow up and be poor like you!” He was eating a bowl of cereal. I didn’t realise how wildly offensive that was.’
How Riley Keough has become a quiet Hollywood success without using the Presley name
Riley has become an indie darling while also appearing in some big Hollywood blockbusters, such as Mad Max: Fury Road and Magic Mike.
She’s also starred as Christine Read, a law student who works as a high-end sex worker, in Starz series The Girlfriend Experience as well as A24 films American Honey, opposite Shia LeBeouf, and Zola with Taylour Paige.
Despite being a quiet child (in a WWD interview she described her younger self as ‘really, really shy’), she was interested in film.
‘At [age] nine, 10, 11, I was making movies all day, and I had a very practical mindset about it all for a child,’ she told InStyle.
Riley starred alongside Dakota Johnson in the 2010 film The Runaways, playing Marie Currie
She was also cast as Christine Read, a law student who works as a high-end sex worker, in Starz series The Girlfriend Experience
Riley as Capable, Courtney Eaton as Cheedo the Fragile, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as The Splendid Angharad in Mad Max: Fury Road
It was during reshoots for Mad Max: Fury Road that she met her now husband, Australian Ben Smith-Petersen. Pictured are Abbey Lee, Zoe Kravitz, Courtney Eaton, Rose Huntington-Whiteley and Riley in the movie
‘I was like, “I’m going to try and model, get my own money, and then I’m going to finish school, and I’m going to start acting after I’m 18, because I want to be a kid.”‘
Riley scored her first acting gig when she was 20, playing Marie Currie, lead singer Cherie’s sister, in the 2010 film The Runaways.
‘There were some times when I was like, “F–k, I wish I had a cool part.” Because they looked so cool and you just want to be one of them (the main cast members),’ she told WWD at the time.
‘I’m really happy with my part. It was really cool to even put that in the movie because it was a really important part of Cherie’s life.’
From there her second film was 2011’s The Good Doctor with Hollywood A-lister Orlando Bloom.
She’s starred alongside Adam Driver and Daniel Craig in Logan Lucky (pictured here as Mellie Logan in the film)
Riley Keough, Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie and Benjamin Keough pictured in 2010
And then she was hired the next year to play stripper Nora in the successful Channing Tatum-led Magic Mike, a role that saw her learn about ‘underwear and spray tans,’ according to IndieWire.
While working on Magic Mike, she met Alex Pettyfer – the pair ended up briefly engaged.
She was cast in The Girlfriend Experience five years later, but initially she had a bit of trepidation playing a sex worker.
‘I was projecting my own views, judgments, and morals onto this person, they weren’t giving a lot to me, but I was rooting for her,’ Riley told IndieWire in 2016.
Since then she’s appeared alongside Adam Driver and Daniel Craig in Logan Lucky, with Tom Holland in The Devil All The Time and Andrew Garfield in Under The Silver Lake, to name a few projects in her prolific list of credits.
It was while working on Mad Max: Fury Road that she met her husband, Australian Ben Smith-Petersen, who was a stuntman on the film.
Riley pictured with her late brother, Benjamin, at her wedding in 2015
She met her husband, Ben Smith-Petersen, in Sydney while she was doing reshoots for Mad Max: Fury Road. They’re pictured here in 2021
Soon Riley (she is pictured here with Lisa Marie last year) will be Daisy Jones in Daisy Jones & The Six
The pair tied the knot in 2015 in Napa Valley’s vineyards in California.
They met during reshoots in Sydney for Mad Max: Fury Road in 2013 and she penned an essay for Vogue about their whirlwind romance.
Riley, who played Capable in the film, said: ‘I was just out of a relationship that I needed to recover from, so definitely wasn’t looking for anything. Ben was on set and I saw him. It had been a year, and he just felt more grown up and there was something about him. I was like, “Oh wow.” He felt so much more mature.’
She added: ‘It felt like I didn’t want to be away from him. I just felt so comfortable.’
Riley told USA Today in 2016: ‘Two weeks into dating him, we were at a gas station and I was like, “I could see myself having kids with this person.” It was kind of like I knew I was meeting my husband. It was very cool.’
Last year she made her first movie at 32 as director of War Pony, which premiered at Cannes.
The pair tied the knot in 2015 in Napa Valley’s vineyards in California. Pictured in 2016
Riley, who played Capable in the film, said: ‘I was just out of a relationship that I needed to recover from, so definitely wasn’t looking for anything.’ The couple in 2019
Riley revealed she grappled with nepotism and the pressures of that made her really nervous initially, but she was now more comfortable with it. Pictured in 2018
Riley revealed she grappled with nepotism and the pressures of that made her really nervous initially, but she was now more comfortable with it.
‘It helps you in so many ways, it helps you have more resources,’ she said during a Kering Women In Motion Talk.
Riley said it also helped her pursuits were not tied to music, which made up a lot of her family legacy.
‘I think it’s separate inherently because it’s not music as well. I think for somebody like my mother that would have been more difficult because there was like a comparison thing and although my grandparents did do acting, it wasn’t the primary focus,’ she said.
Soon she will be Daisy Jones in Daisy Jones & The Six, which is slated for release this year.
The Amazon Prime series is based on the popular book written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and follows the rise and fall of a band in the 1970s.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-11632293/Lisa-Maries-living-legacy-daughter-Riley-Keough-forged-fame-without-relying-Presley-name.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Lisa Marie’s living legacy: How daughter Riley Keough forged fame without relying on Presley name