As the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and massive cultural icon Elvis Presley said, “Rhythm is something you either have or don’t have, but when you have it, you have it all over.”
Baz Luhrmann, an Australian writer, director and producer who wrote scripts for “Moulin Rouge!” and “The Great Gatsby,” is bringing his experience as a pop culture pioneer to an upcoming biopic on the relationship between Presley and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, who will be played by Tom Hanks. Alongside showcasing their relationship, the script also digs into Presley’s origins and his transformation into the King.
Parker, an innovative promoter and a legend himself, pushed Presley to reach indescribable heights and revolutionized the talent management industry. His skill in promotion was unearthed by his experience in the “carny” business, but he soon found himself in Nashville, Tennessee promoting musicians until he caught word about Presley in the mid-1950s. Despite his personal career success, Parker is said to have had a darker side, which will be strewn throughout the film.
Parker’s handling of Presley and his rise to fame has “become the cornerstone of the myth of the pop manager as the fast-talking, money-grabbing swindler.” Presley was chained to what Parker had destined for him for 20 years, which included launching him into stardom through music, film and the military, which was reportedly suggested by Parker to humanize the icon and make him more relatable.
Their relationship is said to have been distant, twisted and laced with poor intentions. The cigar-chomping talent manager worked at his expense, even after Presley’s death in 1977.
To date, there are contradicting theories holding the true relationship between the two men up in the air. Some people believe Parker was the ideal talent manager and sole reason for Presley’s success, while others say otherwise. Horace Logan, the announcer for the Louisiana Hayride country radio show, saw it differently, saying, “He practically destroyed one of the greatest talents that ever lived.”
Despite the ever-present controversy, the film is set to portray the reality of their relationship and depict the truth. With biographical films, such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Rocketman,” on the rise, the upcoming movie is destined to be a success, but the role of the King has yet to be revealed.
There are currently six talented men — Harry Styles, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Austin Butler and, reportedly, G-Eazy — vying for the role as Presley, but the actor and/or singer chosen should have the familiar rhythm and charisma Elvis once donned on stage.
Many people are debating who would make the best Elvis, and the public seems to be generally divided. While the decision is to be made in late July, I’ve made a list of those most suited for the role as Presley, beginning with a music artist and actor who has rhythm, as Elvis described, and talent down to a tee.
1. Harry Styles
Harry Styles, English singer, songwriter and actor, has become notable as a style icon and pop star, though is perhaps more well-known as a former member of the British pop band One Direction. In 2016, Styles left the band to go solo, switching from upbeat pop to soft rock, folk and rock. His work became heavily influenced by The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and Presley himself. In 2017, the 25-year-old dipped his toes into acting, playing Alex in Christopher Nolan’s box office success, “Dunkirk.”
Despite a possible accent barrier, which can be overcome (as many actors do), his part in “Dunkirk” proved he can work in front of a camera. On stage, Styles is renowned for entertaining a crowd, wearing fashionable suits and putting his soul into his performance, all qualities of a potential Elvis. He has the range and vocal experience that the rest simply don’t have and, better yet, he has the signature Presley smirk pinned.
All Styles needs is a pair of blue suede shoes.
2. Miles Teller
Actor and multi-instrument musician Miles Teller began his career partaking in smaller roles. He received his bachelor’s degree in fine arts, specializing in method acting, from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. In 2010, Teller landed his first break playing Jason in the drama film “Rabbit Hole,” and a year later, he was given the opportunity to play Willard Hewitt in the musical drama “Footloose.” He is also known for his roles in the “Divergent” series, “21 & Over” and “Whiplash.”
In high school, Teller excelled in playing the saxophone, piano, drums and other instruments. He was nearly cast in the musical “La La Land,” proving Teller has potential as a singer and performer. In appearance, he has an oval-shaped face, dark hair and the signature smirk fans are looking for. Teller has the Elvis look-alike appeal and experience in acting and performing, and for many, his casting is a no-brainer.
American rapper and hip hop artist G-Eazy, born Gerald Earl Gillum, once had roots in southern bounce music and hyphy (a “hyperactive” form of hip-hop associated with Oakland). After graduating from Loyola University in 2011 with a degree in music industries studies, his reputation and fanbase grew after he toured with artists such as Lil Wayne and Drake, and by 2014, he was hitting the top of the charts.
G-Eazy may not be among the heavy-hitters lined up for the role as Presley, but he’s making a strong effort to join them. His appearance has been coined as a “‘young Elvis’ (Billboard) with slicked-back James Dean hair.” G-Eazy is also a well-known Elvis fan, posting Elvis-esque photos of himself on Instagram.
In an interview with “Rolling Stone, he said, “I’ve always wanted to be a star. I’ve always wanted to be an Elvis Presley or a Tupac. I have an addictive personality and fame is the most addictive drug there is.”
Despite his inexperience in acting, G-Eazy has the passion, look and underlying southern rhythm to pull off the role of the King.
4. Ansel Elgort
Ansel Elgort, actor, singer and DJ, is famously known for his roles as Caleb Prior in the “Divergent” series (2014-2016) and cancer patient Augustus Waters in “The Fault in our Stars” (2014), both of which were shot alongside Shailene Woodley as her brother and love interest, respectively. Elgort also starred with Lily James and Kevin Spacey in the 2017 action film “Baby Driver” and is set to play John F. Kennedy in an upcoming biopic depicting Kennedy’s time as a Navy captain during World War II.
With experience in the music industry as well, Elgort, under the name “Ansolo,” publishes electronic dance music and remixed songs on SoundCloud. In 2014, Elgort released two albums, “Unite” and “Totem,” on Beatport and iTunes. His voice is higher than Elvis’ and their looks differ significantly, so his casting would come as a mild shock.
5. Austin Butler
Austin Butler, singer and actor, is well-known for his roles on television, having played in young adult and children’s shows such as Nickelodeon’s “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide” (2005) and “iCarly” (2007) and Disney’s “Hannah Montana” (2007). The Californian actor has more recently appeared on shows like “CSI: Miami,” “Switched at Birth” and “Arrow.”
Throughout the duration of his career, he grew as a performer and multi-instrumentalist, playing the violin, piano and guitar. In 2018, Butler made his Broadway debut playing Don Parritt in “The Iceman Cometh,” signifying his talent in performance and dedication to complex roles.
His jet-black hair and charming personality have fans reeling for him to be cast, but his appearance can only get him so far. Having only done musical performances on Broadway, Butler may not have the King’s on-stage energy or charisma to pull off the role.
6. Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, English stage, television and film actor, has seemingly transformed the television and film industry, and he is well-known for his roles in “Kick-Ass” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” In 2009, Johnson took on the role of John Lennon, founder of The Beatles, in the biographical film “Nowhere Boy,” the role landing him awards and nominations.
In undertaking the role as John Lennon, Johnson has an edge the others don’t have, but with the absence of musical background and Elvis look, Johnson finds himself coming up short.