There are a lot of actors that have played Elvis Presley, but there are only a few that have really played him well. The list for this is as long as a person’s arm and then some. If you decided to count every Elvis impersonator that had ever put on the dark wig, the flashy outfits, and those customary dark sunglasses then the list would never stop. Elvis Presley was and still in many ways is an icon in American culture and if you happen to say that he was just so-so to a diehard fan the best bet is to have a ready argument for your claim or just walk away. The actors that have played this legend are many, but as I said in the opening line only a few have ever managed to capture the essence of the man in their acts.
Let’s take a look and see what we can see.
5. Tyler Hilton-Walk the Line
Hilton’s part in this movie was understandably small because it was the story of Johnny Cash and the others were just window dressing. But there is a pivotal scene that’s been argued far and wide since it’s deemed very incorrect. It comes when John first starts popping pills, because Elvis takes them so it should be okay. The pills they took were commonly used so that they could get from gig to gig without having to take any extra time, but eventually they did become a problem.
4. Michael St. Gerard-Elvis (TV Show)
This is not Gerard’s only stint playing Elvis but it is the longest since he didn’t have much of a role in Great Balls of Fire on account of the fact that the movie was about Jerry Lee Lewis. Gerard though has the look that simply defines the way that a lot of people wanted to look when impersonating Elvis. He had the baby face and the classic good looks that made him a shoe-in for the part.
3. Bruce Campbell-Bubba Ho-Tep
So admittedly Campbell plays an impersonator in the film but he still pulls off the look so well that I had to add this one in. A lot of Elvis impersonators just don’t have the right kind of build, face shape, or even the swagger to pull off the look. That’s not the point since it’s about having fun and paying homage to the king, but in a movie it pays to at least get close to the look.
2. Michael Shannon-Elvis & Nixon
Neither man really looks like the person they’re playing, but this is actually quite alright since it’s more of a parody of the picture that was taken of the real Elvis and Nixon many years ago. Shannon is doing his best to get the look down, but he definitely gets the eccentricities in there, even if they’re not one hundred percent correct, they’re still amusing.
1. Kurt Russell-Elvis
Kurt Russell really threw himself into this role. He had the voice just about down, the movements, and the swagger that he needed to be the king. This wasn’t the only time he portrayed Elvis either since he would take up the role for a brief period of time in 3000 Miles to Graceland opposite Kevin Costner.
It takes a lot to fill Elvis’ shoes, but some actors do a pretty good job.