Joining the surge of musical biopics in the works following the box office and awards success of Bohemian Rhapsody is an Elvis Presley biopic from Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann. But who will play the King of Rock and Roll? Warner Bros. Pictures has been testing a handful of actors to figure that out. Let’s break them down below.
The Hollywood Reporter has word on Warner Bros. rounding up some of the more popular young actors on the scene today. But there are also a couple of surprising entries in the running too.
First up, there’s Ansel Elgort. The actor made a splash with roles in movies like The Fault in Our Stars and Baby Driver, and he’s currently flexing his musical chops as one of the leads in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story. If a vote of confidence from Spielberg isn’t enough to make you think Elgort has the goods, then I don’t know what to tell you. But even so, Elvis Presley is an icon, and it takes something extra special to pull that kind of role off and make longtime fans believe it.
Then we have Aaron Taylor-Johnson of Kick-Ass and Avengers: Age of Ultron fame. Funnily enough, this wouldn’t be the first time that the actor has played one of the greatest musicians in rock history. Nowhere Boy saw Taylor-Johnson as a young John Lennon before he was part of The Beatles. The actor has some solid range, and it’s not hard to picture him swinging his hips in the way that hypnotized the people of the 1950s.
Miles Teller is apparently also in the running for the role. Initially, he feels like the least likely candidate to get the job, but at the same time, Teller has shown that he’s very dedicated to his craft. If there’s anyone who would really dig into Elvis as a man and give it his all, it’s Miles Teller. He went to grueling lengths to become an obsessive drummer in Whiplash, and we can see him bringing Elvis to life with that same fervor
One of the surprising candidates for the role is British singer/songwriter Harry Styles, of the famous boy band One Direction. Styles had his big acting break in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, and it seems he’s anxious to tackle an even bigger role. His background as a musician makes him a prime candidate, but playing Elvis requires more than that. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this is exactly the kind of role that Styles will pour his heart into just to prove himself.
Finally, there’s Austin Butler, the least known of the talent pool that has been revealed. He’s an actor from The Shannara Chronicles, the fantasy television series based on the books of the same name by Terry Brooks. Butler has some kind of role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as well, so he seems to be on the rise.
Whoever gets the role of Elvis Presley will be joining Tom Hanks in the film, who has already been cast as Col. Tom Parker, the legendary manager who controlled every aspect of Elvis’ career and life, so much that he took advantage of him professionally and personally by taking half of everything he earned, even after Elvis died in 1977.
With Baz Lurhmann behind the camera, I wonder if this will be a biopic that is akin to Rocketman with a bit of a fantasy musical angel to the proceedings. Luhrmann has a penchant for the theatrical and flashy, and I’d much prefer that to the traditional, cliche rock biopic that we’ve seen dozens of times before. We’ll just have to wait and see how it turns out. Warner Bros. is supposed to cast the role of Elvis in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to see who gets the role.
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