The race to play Elvis has been shortlisted to five of the planet’s most eligible Kings. Ansel Elgort, Harry Styles, Miles Teller, Austin Butler, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson have been linked to the upcoming biopic from Baz Luhrmann. Who has the moves? Who has the voice? Who can do that thing Elvis did with his lip? Time will tell. Why they don’t just get Jack White to reprise his role is surely the biggest mystery.
In the current state of movies, biopics are hot property. Bohemian Rhapsody won four Oscars last year (including Best Editing becuase the Academy must’ve blacked out during this scene), and Rocketman has gotten rave reviews and topped $150 million in the box office since it’s late May release. Two of music’s most enigmatic forces got their turn on the big screen, now Hollywood feels the time is right for the King of Rock and Roll.
A quick look at the list opens up the question of who the best fit could be. Harry Styles has already played the real-life role of musical hearthrob, but does he have the acting chops to pull off a role such as this? Aside fron One Direction music videos, his only real acting experience has come in a supporting role in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, and back in 2012 he appeared on an episode of Disney’s iCarly.
Ansel Elgort has been around the Hollywood circuit, and is currently gearing up for the Steven Spielberg adaptation of Westside Story. He’s dabbled in the music industry as a DJ, and the fact he’s appearing in the aforementioned musical denotes his dancing ability. If that wasn’t enough, he shows his dancing diversity in this video. Though to be fair, his nae nae could use some work.
Miles Teller has proven he can play a troubledly genius musician, and he, of the five, might require the least prosthetics to transform into Elvis. Aaron Taylor-Joseph (best known for his lead as the titular Kick-Ass) and Austin Butler remain lesser-known entities in the world of superstardom, but they’ve obviously shown some pinache to be in the running for a role such as this.
A role that, under the microscope, is going to be difficult in many ways. Every Superman has their kryptonite, and Presley was no different. An attachment to drugs ultimately lead to his death. Mood swings led to violence that included physical abuse and discharging firearms at inanimate objects. Then there’s his pedophilic tendencies towards underage girls. It would be divorcing to tell a story about a person of his magnitude without also detailing the extreme negative.
At this time, the only castmember confirmed for the film is Tom Hanks, who plays Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’s manager for two decades. Parker was shrewd. In an agreement he and his then business partner Hank Snow (wait a tick…Tom Parker…Hank Snow…TOM HANKS!) with Elvis, Parker instead had the musician sign a contract making Parker his exclusive representative, cutting Snow out of the deal entirely. He saw what he had in Presley, and made sure his talent was a national sensation, for better or worse.
One of the world’s greatest influencers on music is a story worth sharing to a wide audience of fans and to those who may only know him by name. Whoever ends up with the role will be asked to put forth an effort they have yet to exert and—provided the story is an honest one—the potential for a mass of awards.