One larger-than-life rock star performance obviously deserves another: three years after Rami Malik won an Oscar for his role as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, Orange County’s Austin Butler is causing Oscar excitement for channeling Elvis Presley in the Baz Luhrman’s bio extravaganza “Elvis”. In the lavish staging, Butler’s Elvis wobbles, rattles and rolls in all the right places, but he’s hardly the first actor to walk a kilometer in the king’s overalls. Here’s a look at six stunning Elvis Presley screen shots, with at least half a dozen more out there.
Austin Butler in Elvis (2022)
To sing: Butler sings mostly himself on the pre-1960s material and records his vocals in the same Nashville studio that Presley favored at the time. Butler lip-syncs to Presley recordings for Las Vegas-era Elvis.
To dance: To master Elvis’ rubber-legged wobbles and wobbles, Butler worked with British movement trainer Polly Bennett, who also trained Malik on Bohemian Rhapsody.
All disguised: Butler goes through more than 90 costume changes, from young Elvis in a pink blazer to the black leather outfit from Presley’s 1968 TV series Comeback Special, to designer Bill Belew’s ’70s Las Vegas jumpsuit with embellished mega belt and fit. Royal hood said to be inspired by Napoleon Bonaparte’s high collar.
Better half: Manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) stunted Elvis’ artistic growth with a predatory contract that contributed to the star’s tragic later years.
Credit where due: Little Richard (Alton Mason), Big Mama Thornton (Shonka Dukureh), Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Yola), BB King (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and Arthur Crudup (Gary Clark Jr.) show how black artists created early Elvis covers like ” That’s Alles Klar” and “Hound Dog”.
Preparation: Butler studied with numerous singing teachers and dialect experts for two years before production began.
Michael Shannon in Elvis & Nixon (2016)
To sing: Shannon’s Elvis doesn’t sing.
To dance: He doesn’t dance. However, this Elvis shows karate moves in the Oval Office.
All disguised: Shannon wears a jet black pompadour wig, black pants, gold belt, white spread-collar shirt, and cape-like black jacket in a near-perfect imitation of the attire Presley wore to a photo op with Nixon, which would later become the National Archives’ most requested photo.
Better half: Sidekick Jerry Schilling wrote a memoir about that odd 1970 incident in which Elvis, fed up with hippies and the anti-war movement, shows up unannounced at the White House to ask President Nixon for a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge He authorized him to go undercover and arrest drug dealers. In the film, Schilling (Alex Pettyfer) and Johnny Knoxville’s Sonny dramatize the integral role played by Presley’s “Memphis Mafia” entourage.
Shoot-out: Elvis opens fire on a TV at Graceland. He later shocks White House security by casually opening a briefcase loaded with pistols.
Preparation: Shannon visited Elvis’ tiny bedroom in the Lauderdale Court public housing complex in Memphis. At 6ft 3 tall, the actor focused less on physical veracity and more on the star’s soft-spoken demeanor backstage.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the “Elvis” miniseries (2005)
To sing: Rhys Meyer’s lip syncing to original Elvis Presley recordings.
To dance: Rhys Meyers pulls off one of young Elvis’ boldest maneuvers, scooting across the stage on his knees as if sliding into home base.
All disguised: A shimmering 1958 gold leaf suit highlights a 1958 performance of “Blue Suede Shoes” at Chicago’s International Amphitheater.
Better half: Elvis’ mother, Gladys, portrayed by Camryn Manheim. “I didn’t think of Elvis as the king of rock ‘n’ roll,” Rhys Meyers once said in an interview with Larry King. “I thought of him as a poor, talented boy from Tupelo, Miss., who wanted to buy his mother a house.”
Preparation: The Irish actor visited Graceland and met with members of Presley’s family. Rhys Meyers previously impersonated another charismatic musician with his David Bowie-esque role in 1998’s Velvet Goldmine.
Harvey Keitel in Finding Graceland (1998)
To sing: Keitel lip-syncs “Suspicious Minds” to a performance by an uncredited singer who bears little resemblance to Presley’s actual singing voice.
To dance: The burly, 5-foot-7 Keitel puts everything he’s got into Elvis’ signature windmill gestures and hip thrusts.
All disguised: Keitel’s “Elvis” wears a sparkling blue jumpsuit for the film’s climax musical sequence.
Suspension of Disbelief: Keitel’s drifter, claiming to be the not-really-dead Elvis Presley, hitchhikes to Memphis, handing out home-grown wisdom on the way to meet his new friend (Johnathon Schaech).
Narrating quote: Before Keitel’s nervous Elvis takes the stage, a friend advises, “If you forget any of the words, just do karate.”
Don Johnson in Elvis and the Beauty Queen (1981)
To sing: Three years before he found his alpha male groove as Sonny Crockett on “Miami Vice,” Johnson synchronized himself with performing country singer Ronnie McDowell’s 1972 ballad “Separate Ways” in this TV movie.
To dance: Minimal.
All disguised: White jumpsuit in public. Wide-collared shirts, half-buttoned, private.
Better half: Melodrama trumps music in this tale of Elvis’ tumultuous relationship with Miss Memphis State University Linda Thompson (Stephanie Zimbalist) in the 1970s.
Snack time: On their first date, Elvis teaches Thompson how to make his favorite sandwich—white bread, butter, peanut butter, and bananas.
Shoot-out: “A hotel room is not a suitable place for target practice,” Thompson scolded Elvis after shots were fired.
Kurt Russell in Elvis (1979)
To sing: Russell lip-syncs to his rockabilly style “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and a number of other Presley songs, voiced by Ronnie McDowell.
To dance: Well-placed hip moves help Russell while Elvis sells Blue Suede Shoes.
All disguised: Jumpsuits with sequins in public. Silk shirts privately open at the neck.
Better half: Priscilla Presley (Season Hubley) struggles to keep Elvis focused as he prepares for his first performance at the International Hotel in Las Vegas after a 10-year absence from the stage.
Preparation: At the age of 10, child actor Russell Presley kicked his shins on the set of It Happened at the World’s Fair. Between takes, Russell tossed a football around with the affable star.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/awards/story/2022-12-19/austin-butler-and-other-films-about-elvis-presley Remember those other movies about the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll?