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We can only imagine the type of tall task it must be to portray an iconic public figure like Elvis in a biopic. Sure, you have lots of references from photos to videos, performances, and more — but when it really comes down to it, if an actor or actress can’t nail their impersonation, or anchor their interpretation in something familiar to the audience, the magic can be lost. Now, imagine adding not only getting the voice and mannerisms just right, but also the vocal cords when singing one of your character’s most famous songs and recreating some of his memorable dance moves. For the actors who have played Elvis Presley over the years, those were just a few of the challenges they faced.
It’s surprising how many actors have taken their turn at playing the King of Rock and Roll. Kurt Russell in 1979’s Elvis, Michael Shannon in Elvis & Nixon, and even musician Jack White (who makes an appearance in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) have all donned the glittering jumpsuit or some iteration of Presley’s wardrobe. Now, however, all eyes are on Austin Butler’s performance as Presley.
Elvis, directed by Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!, Romeo + Juliet), swivels into theaters on June 24, and already the film has earned its lead actor praise from Presley’s own family. At the 2022 MTV Movie & TV Awards, Presley’s granddaughter, Riley Keough, referred to Butler’s portrayal of her grandfather as “mesmerizing,” and called the experience of watching the movie with her family, including Presley’s ex-wife Priscilla Presley, “an incredibly emotional experience and I feel honored to have this story in [Austin Butler’s] hands.” While we wait for the highly anticipated biopic to hit theaters, check out some of the other famous faces who portrayed the mononymous talent on the big and small screen.
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