Riley Keough Was Born in the Spotlight. Now She’s There on Her Own Terms (2024)

There’s something amusingly meta about watchingRiley Keoughwatch a Fleetwood Mac performance. The real band’s influence on,in which she stars as the titularStevie Nicks–esque singer,hasbeen well-documented. But Keough was surprised to learn that one of the group’s original members has, in fact, acknowledged her series.

The day before our Zoom call, Fleetwood Mac guitaristLindsey Buckingham—whose relationship with Nicks inspired the characters of Daisy and Billy Dunne (played bySam Claflin)—posted a TikTok alluding to renewed chatter about their breakup. Buckingham shared a clip from a1997 performance of “Silver Springs,” a searing kiss-off song Nicks wrote about Buckingham. “I heard we’re talking about that ’97 ‘Silver Springs’ again,” he wrote.

When I alert Keough to this all-important development, she immediately pulls the video up on her laptop. “I need to see this right now,” she says. “I’m wasting our interview because I need to see if this is fake news.” Keough watches the TikTok with delight, smiling in a dazed way before commenting beneath the video with three simple words: “Yes we are.”

The fact that Buckingham felt the need to giveDaisy Jonesa nod is proof of the show’s impressive reach. Based onTaylor Jenkins Reid’s best-selling novel, the Prime Video series has hit number one on the streamer; its accompanying album,Aurora, featuring the cast singing fictional ’70s hits, peaked atnumber one in the US on iTunes. It’s undeniably the biggest role of Keough’s career thus far—and a moment that she’sreferred to as “cosmic.” But stepping into a spotlight that she’s tried to shirk most of her life took a concerted effort, Keough tells me.

The 33-year-old actor is the granddaughter of Elvis Presley and the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley. By the time she reached high school, she had called both Michael JacksonandNicolas Cagestepfathers. “I grew up with a family that was very much in the public eye, and my childhood was really intense in that way, especially in the ’90s and early 2000s,” Keough says. “It was probably similar to what the Kardashian kids experience now—not being able to go out the front of buildings and having to sneak around and not being able to do…” She trails off. “Just a lot of attention, not being able to do normal things. I really started to appreciate normal things in life—being able to go to the coffee shop and sit there.”

As an adult, Keough has largely evaded the nepo-baby conversation (and dissection of her personal life) by acting in indie projects, includingAmerican HoneyandZola. (One of the glaring exceptions is 2015’sMad Max: Fury Road, through which she met her Australian stuntman husband,Ben Smith-Petersen. The two nowshare a newborn daughter.) “I didn’t actively make choices that were obviously going to change my life,” she says. “I was always trying to navigate how I can perform and also have this thing that’s really special to me, which is being able to do normal things in the world. Subconsciously I was always operating this way, avoiding things that felt…I don’t know, that would change that for my life.”

Daisy, with itsbuilt-in fan base and tangential ties to her musical pedigree, seems like it would have totally derailed the plan. But in the last five years, Keough says, she gave herself freedom to say yes. “I did know thatDaisy Joneswas going to be a big show. I just stopped caring as much about the outcome,” she explains. “Ultimately, it was just something that in my soul I felt like I needed to do. I also felt like I wanted to do something that would bring joy to my life. I’ve been through a lot in life prior to Daisy, and I just wanted to be in a space at work that felt like fun and not heavy, and dark, and serious. And the environment of that show was all of those things.”

Embracing Daisy also meantlearning to sing and play instruments, which the cast did via virtual band camp during a pandemic-induced delay. The fruits of Keough and the cast’s labor are on full display in the season finale, where Daisy Jones & the Six perform their final concert in Chicago. Wearing avintage gold Halston cape,an homage to Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman,” Keough’s Daisy sings like she knows it’s the last time. These live performances were filmed over a week of overnight shoots in New Orleans, where Keough and her cohort would sing until the sun rose. “It was totally chaotic, but it was the moment we’d all been waiting for,” she says, adding, “There wasn’t a part of us that felt like we were actors anymore.”


Keough’s emotionally charged performance includes loads of heated glances at Claflin’s Billy. At one point in the finale, a newly relapsed Billy tells Daisy that they can “be broken together” because his wife, Camila (Camila Morrone), has left him. But after 10 episodes’ worth of self-destructive behavior, Daisy declares, “I don’t want to be broken”—a moment of agency not afforded to the character in Reid’s book.

“She just very simply doesn’t want this for herself anymore—especially not this way, not the way that he’s coming to her. It’s not that version of Billy that she’s in love with. She’s in love with all of Billy, but she’s mostly been around him sober,” Keough explains. “So seeing that this is what she’s bringing out of him doesn’t feel good to her. It’s a moment of power for her to go, I’m going to walk away from this.”

Daisy’s substance abuse, which Keoughhas said she approached with particular sensitivity “because this is something I’ve experienced in my family,” is exacerbated by both her untenable dynamic with Billy and the crippling lack of love she’s received from her mother.

Motherhood is a major preoccupation for Daisy across the final episodes. She wards off having children for fear of inflicting the kind of trauma Daisy experienced upon them. Then, after a crushing phone call with her absentee mother in the finale, Daisy shouts, “Next time you wanna hear my voice, how ’bout you try the f*cking radio.”

“I didn’t experience it personally, but I’ve seen [that mother-daughter dynamic] with a few people in my life. And it’s totally heartbreaking,” Keough says. “Some people are lucky to have mothers that are very nurturing and loving, and some people aren’t. That is a place of great wound, when either parent isn’t showing up in the way that the child wants them to. It is supposed to be the one person who loves you no matter what. And so when you don’t experience that, I could see how that could turn into, Well, I’m not lovable because the one person who’s supposed to love me more than anything in the world doesn’t. Not to say I don’t think her mom ever loved her, but it’s a very complicated relationship and woman.”

Riley Keough Was Born in the Spotlight. Now She’s There on Her Own Terms (2024)


What is Riley Keough famous for? ›

Born into an American musical dynasty, actor Riley Keough is the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley and the granddaughter of the King of Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis Presley. After getting her start as a teen fashion model, she made her film debut in 2010's The Runaways.

What did Riley Keough inherit? ›

Riley Keough's Net Worth Seems Kind of Complicated Due to the Elvis Estate. Riley just inherited Graceland after her mother Lisa Marie Presley's passing.

Was Riley Keough close to Lisa Marie? ›

In 2014, Lisa Marie opened up about her life with her children, calling her family “just very normal” despite their fame. Lisa Marie explained that she was “very close” with Riley and her other three children and considered them best friends.

Who raised Riley Keough? ›

Keough was raised primarily by her father in Hawaii and Los Angeles, though she at times lived at her mother's Los Angeles home, as well as at the Graceland Estate in Memphis, Tennessee, which her mother inherited following her grandfather Elvis's death.

Did Riley Keough just have a baby? ›

Actress Riley Keough and her husband Ben Smith-Petersen became parents to a baby girl in August 2022, but the news didn't break until this past January, during the memorial service for her mother, Lisa Marie Presley.

Has Riley Keough locked Priscilla out of Graceland? ›

A representative for Graceland has since denied this, telling Entertainment Tonight: “These reports are entirely untrue. No locks at Graceland have been changed since Lisa Marie's passing.

What did Priscilla Presley inherit from Elvis? ›

When Elvis and Priscilla divorced in 1973 she was given a one off payment of $720.000 ( worth over 5million today ) she was also given spousal support and child support. Along with 5% of Elvis's Royalties..she also got half of the sale of their Californian home…

Who has custody of Lisa Marie's twins? ›

Lisa Marie Presley's ex-husband has won full custody of their two win daughters following her sudden death in January. Lisa Marie Presley's ex-husband has won full custody of their two twin daughters following her sudden death in January.

Who inherits Lisa Marie Presley's fortune? ›

Lisa Marie's oldest daughter, Riley Keough, is the beneficiary of her late mother's estate. Priscilla Presley had questioned the validity of her daughter's will, but a settlement agreement over her petition was reached on May 16.

What autoimmune diseases does Riley Keough have? ›

She also spoke candidly about her diagnosis with Lyme disease, an autoimmune disorder that can cause debilitating symptoms. Keough shared that she's struggled with it for years and tries to alleviate the symptoms at a holistic treatment center in Switzerland (where she sat for a portion of the interview.)

What does Riley Keough say about Michael Jackson? ›

"I had real love for Michael," Keough said of the "Thriller" singer. She recalled that "he really got a kick out of being able to make people happy, in the most epic way possible," like how Jackson once had a toy store in Europe shut down so that she could buy a teddy bear.

Why is Riley Keough sole heir? ›

In August 2023, after a series of legal proceedings regarding the custody of the estate, a Los Angeles, California, judge ruled that, as Lisa's eldest daughter and Evis Presley's granddaughter, Riley Keough would be the sole heir to the exclusive Graceland estate, which Elvis purchased for $102,500 in 1957.

Does Riley Keough look like Priscilla? ›

Riley Keough looks *exactly* like 1960s Priscilla Presley with her 2024 Emmys beehive hair. Not only did Riley Keough bring her grandmother, Priscilla Presley as a surprise plus one to last night's 75th Emmy Awards [15 January, 2024], but she paid homage to her as well via an iconic 60s-inspired hairstyle.

Did Riley Keough speak at Memorial? ›

According to Radar Riley attended the memorial but was unable to step up to the stage and read the letter that she wrote for her late mother called "A Letter to My Mama" instead, her husband Ben Smith-Petersen was the person who read the kind words.

Did Riley Keough go to her mother's funeral? ›

Lisa Marie Presley, 54, would be buried just moments later next to her father, rock icon Elvis, and her son, Benjamin. Riley was pictured arriving at the memorial for her mother on Saturday dressed down in sweatpants with her hair loose as she carried a baby.

Why is Riley Keough the sole owner of Graceland? ›

Presley purchased the property in 1957 for $102,500. Following the January death of his only child, Lisa Marie Presley, and subsequent legal proceedings regarding the estate's custody, Elvis's granddaughter Riley Keough was granted sole ownership of Graceland.

How is Riley Keough related to Michael Jackson? ›

The actress, of course, is the daughter of the late Lisa Marie Presley and her ex-husband Danny Keough. Following Presley and Keough's split in 1994, Lisa Marie went on to marry Michael Jackson, Nicolas Cage and Michael Lockwood. After a quick divorce from Danny, Presley married MJ the same year.

Did Riley Keough attend Oscars? ›

Riley Keough stepped out with husband Ben Smith-Petersen to celebrate the Oscars 2023.

What did Riley Keough say about her mom? ›

As for what she wants the world to remember about her mom, she said it would be that "she was really one of a kind" and -- despite not having an easy life -- she was a "fierce woman, and a really wonderful mother." Riley Keough on the cover of Vanity Fair's September 2023 issue, on newsstands Aug.

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