Elvis movie: Tom Hanks ‘Colonel Parker was cheap crook but there’d be no King without him’

ELVIS: Official second trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s movie

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Back in the mid-1950s, Elvis Presley was discovered by illegal immigrant and former carnival man, Colonel Tom Parker, real name Andreas van Kuijk. The businessman managed The King for his entire career until his death in 1977. He made Elvis a huge star yet also stifled his creativity by keeping him in repetitive, mainly poor movies and prevented him from touring outside of North America and Hawaii.

Tom Hanks plays The Colonel in the Elvis movie, looking back on his life with The King.

At a Cannes Film Festival press conference, the Oscar winner said: “Was he a cheap crook that played fast and loose? Yeah, when it comes down to that, but I worked that all out to everyone’s satisfaction. He was a man who brought joy to everything he did — along with a bit of larceny.”

Parker is very much the villain of Baz Luhrmann’s biopic, but that’s not what interested the star in portraying him.

Hanks continued: “I’m not interested in playing a bad guy just for the sake of, ‘Before I kill you Mr Bond would you like a tour of my installation?’ That’s okay. I get it, but I think that’s for other stuff. What Baz tantalised me with right off the bat was, here’s a guy who saw the opportunity to manifest a once-in-a-lifetime talent into a cultural force. He sought that and knew that about Elvis the first time he saw Elvis’ effect on an audience…He realised that guy was forbidden fruit and you could make an awful lot of money off of forbidden fruit.”

Hanks added: “The amount of ways that Parker cheated people out of nickels and dimes and dollars is extraordinary, and in my own way I’ve incorporated some of that in my own life. As far as his background, I think no one knew the Colonel’s background. There are some extraordinary, tabloidy, melodramatic stories about why and how he left Holland. I’d like to think, yeah, he was running away from an aspect of his past and escaping his small town, and who among us wouldn’t jump at an opportunity to do that very thing?”

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Hanks called The Colonel a “mercurial and brilliant man who at the same time lined his own pockets.”

And added: “There would have been no Elvis without Colonel Tom Parker; there would have been no Colonel Tom Parker without Elvis. A symbiotic relationship.”

Elvis hits cinemas on June 24, 2022.

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