Riley Keough is opening up about her family following the sudden loss of her mother, Lisa Marie Presley, and the legal battle against her grandmother, Priscilla Presley, that ensued.
As Perezcious readers know, Elvis Presley‘s ex-wife contested “the authenticity and validity” of Lisa Marie’ will, which appointed her eldest daughter sole trustee of her estate, after the 54-year-old’s sudden death in January. After a months-long legal ordeal, the Daisy Jones & The Six star finally won the bittersweet battle last week when a judge signed off on an agreement reached between the parties, including Michael Lockwood (Lisa Marie’s ex and the Guardian Ad Litem for Riley’s twin half-siblings Harper and Finley).
Now, in a vulnerable new cover story with Vanity Fair out on Tuesday, the rising star is breaking down all the trials and tribulations she’s been through since the death of her mother — while also sharing some uplifting news about her own journey into motherhood.
Opening up about the court drama that has captured headlines for months, the 34-year-old expressed:
“Clarity has been had. […] Things with Grandma will be happy. They’ve never not been happy.”
She went on to address the court battle, sharing:
“There was a bit of upheaval, but now everything’s going to be how it was. She’s a beautiful woman, and she was a huge part of creating my grandfather’s legacy and Graceland. It’s very important to her. He was the love of her life. Anything that would suggest otherwise in the press makes me sad because, at the end of the day, all she wants is to love and protect Graceland and the Presley family and the legacy. That’s her whole life. So it’s a big responsibility she has tried to take on. None of that stuff has really ever been a part of our relationship prior. She’s just been my grandma.”
Per the agreement, the details of which were unveiled by ET in June, Riley will own Graceland, but will allow her grandmother to be buried on the property with her burial location being “the location closest to Elvis Presley without moving any existing gravesite.” This was a slight loss for Priscilla, who reportedly requested to be buried next to her late ex, per TMZ. He is currently laid to rest in between his grandmother, Minnie Mae, and his father, Vernon Presley.
Addressing the gravesite controversy, Riley revealed she never thought it was as problematic as the media made it seem:
“I don’t know why she wouldn’t be buried at Graceland. I don’t understand what the drama in the news was about. Yeah. If she wants to be, of course. Sharing Graceland with the world was her idea from the start.”
Interestingly, the Zola star discussed how the burial site has tarnished her relationship with Elvis’ beloved property, she expressed:
“I always had positive and beautiful memories and association with Graceland. Now, a lot of my family’s buried there, so it’s a place of great sadness at this point in my life.”
That’s very understandable. Not only is her mother and legendary grandfather buried there, but her brother, as well. Benjamin Keough died from suicide in 2020 — and the death rattled the entire family. Discussing that tragic time in her life, she reflected on how much she clung to her mother to get through the heartbreak, saying:
“After that, I would still sleep at her house like two or three times a week. She wanted us there. If it was up to her, I would have lived there full-time.”
Aw! The Runaways alum continued:
“When I lost my brother, there was no road map whatsoever, and it was a lot of big emotions that I didn’t know what to do with. When I lost my mom, I was familiar with the process a little bit more, and I found working to be really helpful. I find it triggering when people say happiness is a choice, but in that moment, I did feel like there was a choice in front of me to give up and let this event take me out or have the courage to work through it. I started trying to move through it and not let it take me out.”
She is so young to have lost two very important people in her life.
Elsewhere in the chat, the performer recalled the last time she saw her mother, which was at a post-Golden Globes party for the Elvis biopic. She shared:
“We had dinner. That was the last time I saw her. I remember thinking about how beautiful she looked, and that was my strongest memory of the dinner.”
While nothing can make this loss less painful, we’re glad her last memory is a positive one. She went on to call Lisa Marie “one of a kind” and “the best mom.”
Speaking off, she now has her own daughter to look after and for whom she hopes to be “the best mom.” Riley and her husband Ben Smith-Petersen welcomed their first child via surrogate in August 2022 — and she’s now revealing details about the pregnancy and the little girl’s name for the first time!
The Girlfriend Experience star announced her 1-year-old daughter‘s name is Tupelo Storm Smith-Petersen, and she is “literally like someone shrunk my husband and that’s our baby.” Cute! She was named after the birthplace of the Burning Love artist, Tupelo, Mississippi. Her middle name is the same as her late brother’s. On the meaning of her moniker, Riley laughed:
“It’s funny because we picked her name before the Elvis movie. I was like, ‘This is great because it’s not really a well-known word or name in relation to my family–it’s not like Memphis or something.’ Then when the Elvis movie came out, it was like, Tupelo this and Tupelo that. I was like, ‘Oh, no.’ But it’s fine.”
As for why she decided to use a surrogate, Riley noted it felt like the best option for her after struggling with Lyme disease, explaining:
“I think it’s a very cool, selfless, and incredible act that these women do to help other people. I can carry children, but it felt like the best choice for what I had going on physically with the autoimmune stuff.”
On the kind of parent she wants to be, she shared:
“This is the thing in my life so far that I have really wanted to, quote-unquote, get right. I don’t think you ever can be a perfect parent, but I would like to be the best mom for her that I can be. That’s very important to me.”
We have no doubt she’ll be a wonderful mother. She has been through so much in life — and now she can share those lessons with the next generation of her family. On how she has grown after dealing with so many family struggles, she concluded:
“I have been through a great deal of pain and I’ve had my.… Parts of me have died and I’ve felt like my heart has exploded, but I also feel.… I’m trying to think of how to phrase this. I have strengthened the qualities that have come about through adversity.”
Whoa. Such a candid conversation. We are sending her so much love and wish nothing but happiness for this next chapter in her life. See more from her cover story (below):
Thoughts? Let us know (below).