Baz Lurhmann, the flamboyant director of The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge! has produced a bright, glittery movie about Elvis Presley that’s full of music, color and movement. Elvis the movie has a massive scope, covering Presley’s life from his childhood — growing up in poverty in the deep south of America with the influence of Black culture (evangelical church, gospel and blues) — to his early years as a singer on the Country Music circuit, his discovery by the shady Colonel Tom Parker and rise to fame and all the way to his all-too-early death, at 42. It’s a film that tells the story of America in the 50s, 60s and 70s alongside the story of The King and, as a result, it’s packed full of references to key figures in popular culture and has a huge cast of characters.
So, who's who in Elvis the movie? Here’s our guide to everyone to look out for, from the main cast to all the cameo appearances.
Austin Butler is Elvis Presley, aka The King
Austin Butler takes on the title role of Elvis Presley and according to most critics (including our own What to Watch film reviewer), he's done an outstanding job. Walking the fine line between caricature and inhabiting a character is a difficult one — especially when that character is as iconic as The King of rock and roll and has been memed, mimicked and impersonated for decades.
Even more difficult is Butler has to play Elvis from his teenage early days, starting out as a group singer, all the way through to Elvis in his mid-forties, overweight, worn down by life and addiction and yet still managing to put on a show that casts a spell on everyone watching. To believably hit that range of experience is a tough act — but Butler nails it. He's one to watch for the future.
Where have you seen Austin Butler before? Starting out in Disney roles (like so many actors and entertainers), Butler has had lead roles in The Carrie DiariesandThe Shannara Chronicles.
Tom Hanks is Colonel Tom Parker
Colonel Tom Parker (not his real name) was Elvis' manager and business partner — and all-round bad egg. Colonel Tom — actually a Dutch national called Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk — was a carnival con-man who changed his name, faked his military background and then moved into music promotion where we worked with various acts, including Hank Snow. Once he found Elvis and realized how rich Elvis could make him, he stuck limpet-like to his new protégé controlling what he wore, ate, drank and did — including encouraging him to serve in the Military, marry Priscilla and do Las Vegas concerts for so many years.
Tom Hanks transforms himself to play Colonel Tom with prosthetics, a bald wig and an odd (not Dutch) accent. We don't think he pulls it off, in fact, we'd go so far as to say he's the weak link in the movie, but you judge for yourself. Outside of this movie Hanks is an established dramatic actor with an impressive list of leading roles including six Academy Award nominations and two wins (for Philadelphia, 1993 and Forrest Gump, 1994) as well as seven Emmy wins. Most recently he's appeared in the western, News of the World and next up is the live-action remake of Pinocchio.
Helen Thomson is Gladys Presley
Elvis was close to his mother, Gladys. She adored him and he worshipped her. When she died young — aged just 46, while he was serving in the Army — he was devastated.
Helen Thomson is an Australian actress, known for her TV work in Jane Campion drama Top of the Lake (with Elisabeth Moss), Blue Heelers and Bad Mothers.
Richard Roxburgh is Vernon Presley
Vernon Presley had a huge influence on his son Elvis after Elvis' mum Gladys died. He managed his Graceland estate, looked after Elvis' finances and even went with him on tour. He was probably a little too fond of the benefits that the rock star lifestyle could bring him, to make sure his son was being treated well.
Also from Baz Lurhmann's home country Richard Roxburgh is an Australian actor who's worked on a huge variety of shows and movies including Rake, Van Helsing (2004), and Moulin Rouge! (2001) which Lurhmann directed.
Olivia Dejonge is Priscilla Presley
Priscilla Beaulieu met Elvis Presley in Germany when she was just 14 years old and he was serving in the Army. They kept in touch after he returned to the US, finally marrying eight years later, in 1967. Elvis and Priscilla had one child, a daughter Lisa Marie, before becoming estranged and eventually divorcing.
Australian actress, Olivia DeJonge has most recently been seen in the true-crime drama The Staircase as well as TNT's young Shakespeare TV series, Will.
Kelvin Harrison Jr. is B.B. King
One of the most influential American R&B singer-songwriter-guitarists in music history, B.B. King had a stream of hits from the 1950s through to the 1990s — including "The Thrill Is Gone", "Is You Is or Is You Ain't (My Baby)" and the 1987 collaboration with Irish rock band U2, "When Love Comes to Town".
B.B. King on his friend, "Elvis was different. He was friendly. I remember Elvis distinctly because he was handsome and quiet and polite to a fault. Spoke with this thick molasses Southern accent and always called me ‘Sir.’ I liked that. I liked his voice, though I had no idea he was getting ready to conquer the world."
Kelvin Harrison Jr. has been acting since he was a teen, in movies as diverse as It Comes at Night, The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Cyrano.
David Wenham is Hank Snow
Hank Snow was a Canadian country music singer in the 1950s who was popular in the early part of Elvis' career. After his son, Jimmie Snow heard Elvis on the radio — playing his first record “That’s All Right” — he encouraged Elvis to join Hank's small-town tour. It was on that tour that Colonel Tom first set eyes on his golden ticket...
David Wenham is probably best known for his role as Faramir in The Lord of the Rings but has also starred in Top of the Lake (alongside Olivia DeJonge), Van Helsing, as well as Baz Lurhmann, films Australia and Moulin Rouge!
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jimmie Rodgers Snow
Son of country music star, Hank Snow, Jimmie Snow started out in his father's footsteps before becoming a Pastor. As Lurhmann's film has it, Jimmie heard Elvis on the radio and spotted his teen audience appeal and brought him onto his father's tour. He was also the host of Grand Ole Gospel Time at the Grand Ole Opry.
Kodi Smit-McPhee was last seen on the big screen besting Benedict Cumberbatch in a game of wits and cunning, in Jane Campion's The Power of the Dog. He's also appeared in films include Dolemite is my Name, Dark Phoenix and as The Boy, in the 2009 dystopian drama The Road.
Shonka Dukureh as “Big Mama” Thornton
Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton was an American singer-songwriter whose popular blues song, "Hound Dog", was later recorded by Elvis and turned into a smash hit — which became Elvis' longest-running number one.
The late Shonka Dukureh (who died in July aged just 44), was a sensational vocalist who also collaborated with artist Doja Cat on the song "Vegas" which is a Hound Dog/Doja Cat original mashup that has pride of place on the Elvis soundtrack.
Dacre Montgomery is Steve Binder
Steve Binder was a director who (in Luhrmann's words) "was responsible for the iconic 1968 television special, often referred to as Elvis' comeback." He saw the potential to break Elvis out of the cheesy money-making commercial stunts that the Colonel had him doing and get him back to his raw musical potential.
Yet another Aussie in the cast, Dacre Montgomery is best known for his role as Billy Hargrove in the Netflix fantasy drama Stranger Things. He was also in 2017's Power Rangers movie and the Selena Gomez-produced rom-com The Broken Hearts Gallery.
Luke Bracey is Jerry Schilling
Schilling was a close friend of Elvis since they were both teenagers. He was a member of Elvis' infamous "Memphis Mafia". He's now a film producer (, Heartbreak Hotel) and a talent agent.
An Australian actor who started out in the long-running series before getting roles in Point Break (2015), Little Fires Everywhere and Hacksaw Ridge.
Yola is Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Rosetta Tharpe was a Gospel singer and electric guitarist in 1930s and 40s America. She was referred to as "The Godmother of rock and roll" and her hit "Strange Things Happening Every Day", was considered the first true rock and roll record.
Yola, aka Yolanda Claire Quartey, is a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter. She makes a cameo appearance in Elvis performing in a late-night club on Memphis' legendary Beale Street. If you want to check out what the fuss is all about she's playing at Glastonbury 2022.
Alton Mason is Little Richard
A flamboyant rock & roll showman, Little Richard's hits included "Tutti Frutti", "Long Tall Sally" and "Good Golly Miss Molly." He was one of the first crossover musicians, reaching audiences of all races, a rarity in those times. Presley was so impressed by him he covered four of his songs and called him "the greatest".
Fashion model Alton Mason, who makes his acting debut, as Little Richard in Elvis, is yet another electric musical cameo appearance in the film. Little Richard's swaggeringly confident performance is a pivotal moment — it comes just as Elvis is starting to doubt himself and his musical instincts. Elvis watches a charismatic performer who makes his own rules and gets back in the game.
Natasha Bassett is Dixie Locke
Poor old Dixie Locke was Elvis' first serious girlfriend. We say "poor Dixie" because as soon as fame beckons, Elvis heads out of the door, off on tour with barely a backward glance at Dixie. She's a footnote in time, but she does make it into the movie — which is something, we guess.
Natasha Bassett who plays Dixie is yet another Aussie cast member. (We guess Luhrmann used the pandemic to recruit close to home!) She's had her own experience of portraying a famous singer, playing Britney Spears in the 2017 Lifetime biopic Britney Ever After.
More Elvis movie content
- Elvis movie review: we can't help falling in love with Austin Butler's King
- Why did Harry Styles miss out on the role of Elvis?
- The Elvis movie trailer has dropped and here’s what we learned.
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I've worked in content strategy, editorial and audience development for leading film and TV companies for over 15 years. Always fascinated by digital trends, I'm currently obsessed with FilmTok. You can also find me extolling the virtues of classic TV shows like Fringe, Smallville and The West Wing, romance movies, Wong Kar Wei's back catalogue and anything that involves Monty Don/Gardener's World.
Who stars in the new Elvis biopic? ›
Austin Butler is an American film, television, and Broadway actor and singer. His most prominent acting role to date is as the lead role in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis Presley biopic Elvis alongside Tom Hanks, which was released to great acclaim in 2022.Who are the cameos in the Elvis movie? ›
fans may recognize Roxburgh as the villainous Duke.) Though Elvis is the focus of the film, there will also be cameos from other legendary musicians including Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Yola), B.B. King (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), Little Richard (Alton Mason), Hank Snow (David Wenham) and Jimmie Rodgers (Kodi Smit-McPhee).Who played Elvis at the end of the Elvis movie? ›
Austin Butler's Performance As Elvis Was Rewarded
Notably, actor Austin Butler himself was nominated for a Best Actor award for his iteration of the King of Rock n Roll. This is a first for the young actor, as Elvis can widely be considered as his breakout role.
Introducing ... Elvis Presley! In July of 2019, news broke that Austin Butler landed the role of The King, a coveted spot in director Baz Luhrmann's latest movie that also features Tom Hanks. The film hit theaters on June 24, 2022.Who is the Number 1 Elvis impersonator? ›
Independent reviewers have stated that JD King is one of the best Elvis impersonators of our time. Anyone can see the resemblance the moment he steps on stage, but it's more than that. It's his moves, his mannerisms, and his voice. According to his many fans, His shows are a delight for all ages.Was Jon Bon Jovi in the Elvis movie? ›
Elvis: Viva Las Vegas (TV Movie 2007) - Jon Bon Jovi as Self - IMDb.Did the Presley family approve the Elvis movie? ›
The Presley family has been outspoken about their support for Elvis and Butler's portrayal. Lisa Marie and Priscilla both previously shared how emotional the film has made them. Writing on Instagram last month, Lisa Marie said, "If Butler does not win an Oscar for the role, I will eat my own foot.Did they use actual footage of Elvis in the Elvis movie? ›
He did sing [“Unchained Melody”] in its entirety because there was a question mark towards the end as to whether we were going to get the real footage of Elvis and if we would be allowed to use it. ... Thankfully that famous footage came through and we were able to use it, and that's the real Elvis.Was any of the Elvis movie filmed at Graceland? ›
But for Elvis, it was revealed that the movie would not be filmed at the legendary estate. Instead, Graceland would be recreated at the filming location of Queensland, Australia, where the crew built notable parts of the mansion on the set.What did Priscilla Presley say about Elvis movie? ›
Overall, although Elvis was hard to watch at times, Priscilla loved the film. And she thinks the King himself would've approved, too. “It was perfection,” she told Good Morning America in June. “This is a movie he really would have loved, showing who he was, what he was striving for, what his dreams were.”
Did Elvis wear makeup? ›
The king was in fact a fan of makeup — more specifically, eye makeup — and loved making his vibrant blue eyes pop on stage while performing. True king behavior. In an interview just a few years ago, Elvis' one and only love and wife, Priscilla Presley, opened up a bit about the king (and his pre-show routine).How much did Tom Hanks get paid for Elvis? ›
Not just him, his co-star Tom Hanks has reportedly earned a whopping $8 million for playing Elvis' manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The masterpiece directed by Baz Luhrmann was released on June 24, 2022.Did Elvis fire Colonel Parker on stage? ›
No, Elvis didn't fire the Colonel from the stage at Las Vegas in real life. While the film shows Elvis firing his manager during a show after realising he's being deceived by the Colonel, this is not what happened in real life.Who is Jimmy in the new Elvis movie? ›
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jimmie Rodgers
Coming off the back of his widely acclaimed, Oscar-nominated performance in Jane Campion's The Power of the Dog, Kodi Smit-McPhee returns in another high-profile role this year: Jimmie Rodgers Snow.
Zac Efron is not in the 2022 movie, Elvis.Is Austin Butler singing in Elvis? ›
The answer is yes... mostly. Entertainment Weekly spoke to Butler about his prep for the film, where he revealed how important pulling off the music in the film was to him. "Music has always been a part of my life but always a very private thing," Butler said. "It was just my own form of therapy.How did Austin Butler get the role of Elvis? ›
In a May 2022 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Luhrmann, 60, said that Washington cold-called him shortly after he first encountered a video of Butler performing a cover of Presley's "Unchained Melody." "He found me," the director said when asked why Butler proved to be right actor to play the rock n' roll icon.Who played Fat Elvis in the new movie? ›
Austin Butler went through hell to play Elvis Presley. The Hollywood actor, 30, wore a fat suit for the role in the bigscreen biopic. It was designed to make him look just like music icon Elvis towards the end of his life.