Baz Luhrmann Says It Only Took 15 Minutes to Convince Tom Hanks to Star in ‘Elvis’

Luhrmann hadn't even finished the script when he approached Hanks, but the famously wholesome actor "jumped at the chance to do a repugnant character."
Warner Bros.

Love it or hate it, Tom Hanks’ role as Colonel Tom Parker in “Elvis” is the kind of performance that isn’t easily forgotten. The two-time Oscar winner donned layers of prosthetic and a deliberately unrecognizable accent to portray Elvis Presley’s famously conniving manager in all of his Machiavellian glory (and scurried through a few casinos in a hospital gown for good measure).

One might think that such a role would be a tough sell for the famously wholesome actor. But according to Baz Luhrmann, Hanks was eager to take on the challenge. Speaking at RTS London (via Deadline), Luhrmann revealed that he approached Hanks about the role before the script for “Elvis” was even written and had little difficulty convincing him to join the cast.

“I sat down with him having not even written a script yet and he said, ‘Well if you want me I’m your guy,’” Luhrmann said. “Within 15 minutes, he wanted to do it.”

Hanks apparently treated the fact that the character differed from his most iconic roles as a feature rather than a bug, seeing “Elvis” as an opportunity to expand his acting horizons.

“He wanted to do a character his fanbase wouldn’t want him to do,” Luhrmann said. “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.”

Hanks fans might get to see even more of his take on Colonel Tom Parker soon, as Luhrmann has been open about the fact that a four hour extended cut of “Elvis” is in the works. While the director is currently too tired to dive back into post-production and finish it right away, he promises that there’s enough footage for a “wackadoo” extended cut that could stream on HBO Max.

“There’s so much more,” Luhrmann said. “I mean, there’s lots of stuff that I shot like the relationship with the band, I had to pare [that] down, and it’s so interesting how the Colonel gets rid of them.”

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