Playing Elvis On Screen

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Playing Elvis On Screen

From Eddie O’Keefe comes Kill the King, a love story like no other. Southern Belle Karen Bird (Emily Browning) and Jack Blueblood (Luke Grimes) meet whilst committed to the Second Chances mental facility. The two fall madly in love and embark on a mission, to kill the King of Rock and Roll; Presley (Ron Livingston) who is in Los Angeles with wife Priscilla Presley (Ashley Greene).

To mark the release of Kill the King on Digital Download, Blu-ray™ and DVD on 14th November, we look at the actors who have portrayed the iconic music legend onscreen.

Kurt Russell (Elvis, 1979)

Known most recently for his roles in Fast and Furious 7 and The Hateful Eight, Russell played Presley in the earlier part of his career in the TV movie Elvis, for which he was nominated for an Emmy© for Outstanding Lead Actor. However, before depicting Presley, Russell began his acting career aged 10 in an uncredited role in one of Elvis’ many feature films, It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963). Russell’s character was paid by Presley’s character to kick him in the shins, which Russell was apprehensive to do due to Presley’s star status, yet was convinced to do it by The King himself who paid him $5.

Johnny Harra (This Is Elvis, 1981)

Johnny Harra began impersonating The King at the age of 11 and was cast as the 42-year-old Presley in the 1981 docudrama This Is Elvis. Harra, one of four actors to portray Elvis in the movie, was featured in two scenes from the re-enactment of August 16, 1977, filmed at Graceland. He is one of the very few Elvis impersonators to have portrayed ‘The King’ himself in a film!

Dale Midkiff (Elvis and Me, 1988)

Midkiff played Presley in the TV Movie Elvis and Me opposite Susan Walters as Priscilla Presley and was based on Priscilla’s 1985 book of the same title. Elvis and Me was one of the few films about Elvis that focused on Priscilla’s point of view. The film included a very heated lovemaking scene for the 1980’s and it took Midkiff and Walters several takes to get it right!

Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Elvis, 2005)

The Elvis TV mini-series saw more than 300 actors line-up to audition to play the role of Presley, yet Rhys Meyers won the part, even though he’s British and he wasn’t one of the 300 in line. Rhys Meyers went on to win a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Presley, with his role as ‘The King’ winning him widespread critical acclaim.

Tyler Hilton (Walk the Line, 2005)

Hilton was mainly known for his role in One Tree Hill and in 2005 seemed a peculiar choice for an Elvis role, however, he was selected to depict the role of Elvis in Walk The Line (2005), Jonny Cash’s life story, despite never intending to audition for the role. He originally responded to a casting call for musicians, and upon arrival was asked if he could play any Elvis songs. After the casting directors heard him play he was asked to star as Presley. Hilton was apprehensive to accept as he didn’t believe he would be able to portray ‘The King’, however, the thought of the part going to anyone else got the better of him, and he ended up accepting the role and is to this day said to be proud of his attempt.

Michael Shannon (Elvis & Nixon, 2016)

One of the most recent portrayals of Presley was from Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon in Elvis & Nixon (2016), which focuses on the meeting between Presley and Nixon, leading to Presley being appointed an honorary DEA agent. Eric Bana was originally cast as Presley but luckily for Shannon, he dropped out due to the pressure of living up to expectations of portraying ‘The King’!

Ron Livingston (Kill The King, 2016)

Ron Livingstone is well known for his role in Sex & The City as Burger, something he ate a lot of to gain a few pounds for his portrayal in Kill the King! To get into character Livingstone put on a bit of weight and tried to grow his side burns. Interestingly enough, even though the pop culture royal was and still is storied enough to be featured as the central figures of any film, this is one of the few films that has The King as a supporting character.

Kill the King is available on Digital Download, Blu-ray™ and DVD from 14th November, courtesy of Universal Pictures.

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