The Oscar-winning Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby director said he expected to take a long time to convince Hanks to play the role but “within 15 minutes he wanted to do it.”
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“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 told RTS London.
“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.”
In an out-of-character move, Hanks played the villainous Parker in Luhrmann’s highest-grossing movie of all time, with the character declaring at the beginning: “There are some who’d make me out to be the villain of this here story.”
Luhrmann also talked up Elvis lead Austin Butler for having the best work ethic he’d seen in an actor. The breakout’s performance as the titular character was met with critical acclaim.
“When the film was going away, he wouldn’t leave Australia. He said ‘I’m going to double down.’ And he sings through the first half of the movie,” added Luhrmann.
The director said Presley was a “deeply spiritual person” who would “sing the gospel until the sun came up.”
“He was an important part of U.S. culture but was relegated to a corner and maligned about things that weren’t true,” he added.
He was speaking at RTS London, an all-day event featuring the bosses of the major British broadcasters and production houses.
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