Tom Hanks will continue his quest to play every historical figure ever by taking on the role of Colonel Tom Parker in Baz Luhrmann‘s untitled Elvis biopic. Parker was the man who discovered Elvis Presley, helping him land a record deal and serving as the King’s manager from 1955 to 1977. Elvis and Parker had a very close relationship, with Parker overseeing nearly every single aspect of Presley’s life. For his film adaptation, Lurhmann wanted a star to play Parker, while a newcomer will play Elvis.
Variety broke the news about Tom Hanks entering into negotiations for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic as Colonel Tom Parker. While Parker helped launch Elvis’ huge career, he also hindered it in many ways. Because he himself was Dutch-born and did not have a US passport, he never allowed Presley to tour internationally. He also took 50% of Elvis’ earnings, even after Presley died in 1977.
Per Biography, “In 1980, [it was] estimated that Parker had defrauded the Presley estate of an estimated $7 million to $8 million in just the three preceding years…Parker had never registered Elvis with BMI, an organization that manages music rights. Some 33 songs for which Elvis is credited therefore earned him no songwriting royalties.”
This definitely doesn’t sound like the typical nice guy character Hanks specializes in (for instance, he’ll next be seen playing Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood). It’ll be interesting to see Hanks play a potentially shifty character, depending on how Luhrmann intends to portray Parker in the film. Hanks also has some experience playing a music manager – he played such a part in his directorial debut That Thing You Do.
Per the Variety story, “Luhrmann always envisioned a star for Parker’s part, he wants a newcomer for the role of Presley.” A search is currently underway to find the right actor to play Elvis. Luhrmann and his wife Catherine Martin have been developing the movie ever since Luhrmann finished his 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby. According to THR, the biopic “is described as focusing on Presley’s rise and zenith, with a major aspect being his relationship with Parker.”
Music biopics continue to thrive in Hollywood, and will likely only increase in quantity in the wake of the box office success of Bohemian Rhapsody. I’m not a huge fan of Lurhmann’s frantic style, but I have a feeling at the very least, his Elvis biopic won’t suffer from the same by-the-numbers filmmaking as so many other music biopics do.
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