‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ With These Facts from the 1979 ‘Elvis’ Movie Featuring Kurt Russell

Elvis Kurt Russell 1979
Everett Collection

In 1979, Kurt Russell got the role of playing music icon Elvis Presley in a film called Elvis, just a few years after Presley passed away. Though it was a TV movie, it is still considered one of Russell’s most famous roles and was directed by John Carpenter, known for the Halloween franchise. Instead of the more recent Baz Luhrmann adaptation, the Russell version focuses on Presley’s relationship with his mother Gladys, and aims to show Presley as a man, with innate humanness, not just a star. Let’s learn some interesting facts about the film!

Kurt Russell’s father plays his dad in the film too

Elvis Kurt Russell as Elvis Presley, Bing Russell, 1979

Dick Clark Productions/Everett Collection

Bing Russell plays Presley’s father, Vernon, so the heartfelt scenes felt very genuine. Russell also clearly had chemistry with the star who played Priscilla, Season Hubley, as they wed just after the film was released. They had one son together named Boston. Of course, they ended up divorced and Russell has been with Goldie Hawn now for decades.

Before playing Elvis, Kurt Russell kicked him in real life

It Happened at the World's Fair Kurt Russell, Elvis Presley, 1963

Everett Collection

Russell’s very first role at the age of 10 was in 1963’s It Happened at the World’s Fair, starring Presley. In one scene, Russell had to kick him!

Russell didn’t sing in the film

Elvis Kurt Russell, 1979

Everett Collection

While his acting chops were up to playing Presley, his singing was not. The voice you hear is actually country singer Ronnie McDowell.

Priscilla Presley was paid to check the script

Naked Gun 2 1/2 The Smell of Fear Priscilla Presley, 1991

Paramount Pictures/Everett Collection

She was reportedly paid $50,000 to read the script and make sure everything was accurate.

This wasn’t the only time Kurt Russell portrayed Elvis Presley

3000 Miles to Graceland Kurt Russell, 2001

Warner Bros/Everett Collection

In 1994’s Forrest Gump, he voices a young Elvis in a cameo. In addition, he plays an Elvis impersonator in 3000 Miles to Graceland (2001) and in a full circle moment, a kid kicks him in the film.

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July 2020

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