Over the years there have been an array of actors who have played Elvis Presley in movies. Baz Lurhmann’s new biopic Elvis is not the first to depict the life of the King of Rock and movies have covered a range of his life, including his high school years pre-fame. Elvis Presley himself made 31 movies but played fictional characters in all of these except his concert documentaries.
Elvis’ career as an entertainer ranged from music to acting as well as directing his own movies. After leaving the army, he was starring in movies to become as established in the dramatic arts as his idols James Dean and Marlon Brando. Although this did not work out, with Elvis claiming his worst film was Clambakehis success in the music industry has spawned plenty of adaptations of his life.
Music plays the biggest part in these adaptations, but Elvis was a figure whose life was followed like any celebrity. His controversial marriage to Priscilla Presley was a focus of the 1988 film Elvis and Me and many of the movies about him weren’t solely focused on his music career, but rather on him as a person. Not all of these movies about Elvis did well although some were well received, so here is every actor who has played Elvis Presley in movies.
Austin Butler – Elvis (2022)
Austin Butler stars in Baz Lurhmann’s 2022 biopic Elvis. The movie focuses on the development of Elvis ‘career, with Austin Butler singing his own version of Elvis’ songs, in particular on his manager, Colonel Tom Parker’s (Tom Hanks), role in this and their complicated relationship. It shines a light on his sudden stardom and relationship with Priscilla Presley as the cultural landscape of America changed. Elvis received a 12-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival and, despite plenty of critics slating aspects of the film, it received 83% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Dale Midkiff – Elvis And Me (1988)
Dale Midkiff stars as Elvis in Elvis and Me, the 1988 movie depicting the story of Pricilla Presley’s life with her husband, Elvis. The movie is based on Priscilla Presley’s book of the same name and was nominated for the People’s Choice Award for Favorite TV Movie / Miniseries. There are no critics reviews for Elvis and Me on Rotten Tomatoes but it has received 6.9 / 10 on IMDb.
Don Johnson – Elvis And The Beauty Queen (1981)
Don Johnson, who was nearly replaced on Miami Viceportrays Elvis in Elvis and the Beauty Queen spotlighting his affair with a young beauty pageant contestant, Linda Thompson (Stephanie Zimbalist), after his divorce from Priscilla Presley. Elvis and the Beauty Queen deals with the last four years of Elvis’ life with Linda and his addiction to drugs and is praised for aspects of this. However, the film did not have any lasting impressions and has scored quite low on most review sites and by critics.
Kurt Russell – Elvis (1979)
Kurt Russell stars in the first biopic of Elvis Presley’s life, Elvis (1979). Including Elvis’ life up until 1970, the success of Elvis on American television caused it to be released theatrically in Europe and Australia. Elvis was received well by critics with some criticism of screenplay but was nominated for 3 Primetime Emmy Awards and one Golden Globe. This was the first time Russell had worked with director John Carpenter, who almost directed a Jaws rip-off, and they went on to work together in multiple blockbusters, such as The Thing (1982).
Michael Shannon – Elvis & Nixon (2016)
Elvis & Nixon (2016) is the true story behind Elvis Presley and President Richard Nixon’s meeting in 1970. Michael Shannon plays Elvis in the movie which is based on the meeting behind the picture of Presley and Nixon shaking hands, which is the most requested photo from the National. Archives. Elvis & Nixon is considerably more popular with critics than audiences (via Rotten Tomatoes) and Shannon was nominated for a Best Actor award from the Indiana Film Journalists Association.
Michael St. Gerard – Great Balls Of Fire (1989)
Michael St. Gerard plays Elvis in Great Balls of Fire! (1989) which is a biographical about, not the King of Rock n ‘Roll himself, but the man who was expected to become the next Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis (Dennis Quaid). Lewis rose to stardom but his controversial marriage to his 13-year-old cousin led to his downfall, keeping Elvis securely as the King. It did not have a great box office reception and finished 7th on its opening weekend.
Paul Hipp – Liberace: Behind The Music (1988)
Elvis Presley is portrayed by Paul Hipp in Liberace: Behind the Music (1988). This is an unofficial biopic on the life and death of Władziu Valentino Liberace, a famous American pianist, and vocalist. The movie is focused on him, but Hipp plays Elvis who was great friends with Liberace, and apparently, Liberace was the one who told Elvis to have more glitz and flamboyancy.
Peter Dobson – Protecting The King (2007)
Peter Dobson portrays Elvis in Protecting the King (2007), a movie about one of his bodyguards – not the Elvis bodyguard that helped launch Bruce Lee’s career – who was hired at only 16-years-old. Elvis ‘bodyguard, David Stanley (Matt Barr), was also Elvis’ step-brother and lived an excessive and lavish life alongside him. Despite a new look at Elvis’ life and the people around him, the film performed poorly and only received a 35% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Rick Peters – Elvis Meets Nixon (1997)
Rick Peters plays Elvis in the first look at Elvis and President Nixon’s (Bob Gunton) famous meeting in Elvis Meets Nixon (1997). Unlike Shannon’s 2016 version, Elvis Meets Nixon is a mockumentary / comedy about the meeting which came about when Elvis went to the White House to become a federal marshal under the DEA, so it is understandable why Rocky was afraid to meet Elvis. The story the mockumentary is based on is true but is embellished for the movie; it was received well by audiences and received 75% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Rob Youngblood – Elvis And The Colonel: The Untold Story (1993)
Rob Youngblood played Elvis in the first movie to explore his relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Beau Bridges). The 1993 movie Elvis and the Colonel: The Untold Story explores the exploitative relationship Elvis had with his manager from the point of view of Elvis’ ghost. There are few reviews of the movie but those which exist do not paint the film in the best light and it only received 5.1 / 10 on IMDb.
Tyler Hilton – Walk The Line (2006)
Walk the Line (2006) is also a movie that focused on another star that had connections to Elvis Presley. In this movie, which now has a Walk the Line extended version, Elvis is played by Tyler Hilton and it is based on the two autobiographies written by Johnny Cash, played by Joaquin Phoenix. Hilton’s role in Walk the Line is relatively small but pays homage to a friendship founded before either of them were famous. Walk the Line was received positively by critics and audiences alike, even grossing $ 187 million of a $ 28 million budget and 7 Oscar nominations (via IMDb).
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