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Baz Luhrmann Explains Why Tom Hanks Took His Role In Elvis

Baz Luhrmann discussed working with Tom Hanks and why the actor wanted to take the unappealing role of Colonel Tom Parker in the film Elvis.

Tom Hanks didn’t need much convincing to play Colonel Tom Parker in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. The biopic, which was released this past summer, stars Austin Butler as the titular Elvis Presley. The film follows Butler’s Elvis rise to fame and subsequent relationship with Hanks’ Parker as his manager. The biopic explores how Colonel Tom Parker took advantage of Elvis’s talent and may have even been to blame for the singer’s premature death at age 42.


While speaking at the RTS London Convention, Buz Luhrmann spoke about working with both Tom Hanks and Austin Butler throughout filming Elvis. The event, which is taking place this year at King’s Place in London on September 27, consists of several speakers within the film and television industry. Luhrmann spoke in conversation with television presenter Edith Bowman. Elvis is the director’s highest-grossing film of all time in the United Kingdom.

Related: Every Actor Who Has Played Elvis Presley In Movies

According to Deadline Luhrmann told RTS London that he expected to have to convince Tom Hanks to play Colonel Tom Parker. The character, who tells the audience, “there are some who might make me out to be the villain of this here story,” at the beginning of the film is an unusual role for Hanks. However, according to the director, Hanks expressed his interest in the role before the script for Elvis was even completed. See what Luhrmann said below:

“He wanted to do a character his fanbase wouldn’t want him to do. Like all despots, Tom Parker was empathetic. He did love Elvis and was also exploiting the hell out of him so Tom Hanks wanted to run towards that role, he jumped at the chance to do a repugnant character.”

Tom Hanks Wanted to Take a Role His Fans Wouldn’t Want Him To

Tom Hanks expressed his interest in playing Colonel Tom Parker after just 15 minutes of discussing the role with Luhrmann. Hanks is most known for nice guy roles like the titular Forrest Gump, a leading man in a few of Nora Ephron’s most famous romantic comedies such as You’ve Got Mail, and even as the friendliest man on television in the Mr. Rogers biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. His role as Colonel Tom Parker, the manager who seemingly caused Elvis Presley’s downfall, is almost unprecedented for the actor.

Though an unexpected casting in Elvis, Hanks as Parker gives the audience a chance to see the relationship between Elvis and his manager beyond the surface level. Hanks certainly delivers on creating a multidimensional character out of Colonel Tom Parker. In fact, Hanks’ resume for playing kind-hearted people allows the audience to fall for Parker’s facade similarly to Elvis Presley himself. Audiences can decide for themselves if Hanks as a bad guy is believable.

Source: Deadline

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