‘Elvis’ Star Tom Hanks Describes Colonel Tom Parker as Both ‘Sleazy’ and a ‘Lovely Man’

by Craig Garrett

Tom Hanks has some contrasting thoughts on Elvis manager Colonel Tom Parker after playing him in the upcoming film. Hanks is unrecognizable in the Baz Luhrmann-directed flick. Hidden underneath a padded suit and a prosthetic nose, some might feel that Hanks struggled to identify with the Colonel. However, the Saving Private Ryan actor sees Colonel Parker as multifaceted.

“Colonel Tom Parker was a carney, pure and simple,” Tom Hanks told Wreg.com. “Now, being a carney is a sleazy guy who overpays for soft serve ice cream, chili dogs,” the actor said. However, there’s more to such a person than that surface definition. “…or you look at a carney as someone who understands these magic lights at the edge of town attract people who want to have a good time.”

Elvis biopic and star Tom Hanks getting praise from critics

Set for wide release on June 24th in the United States, the Tom Hanks starring Elvis has fared well so far. Holding an 82% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, most critics have praised Austin Butler’s portrayal of Elvis. The story is told through the eyes of Hanks as Colonel Parker. Perhaps one of the most important critics, Priscilla Presley recently took to Facebook to praise the film.

“For those curious about the new film ELVIS, Baz Luhrmann, the director, provided a private screening for me and [Elvis Associate] Jerry Schilling at Warner studios recently,” The Naked Gun star wrote. “This story is about Elvis and Colonel Parker’s relationship. It is a true story told brilliantly and creatively that only Baz, in his unique artistic way, could have delivered.” She goes on to praise Hanks, writing, “Tom Hanks was [Colonel] Parker in this film. What a character he was. There was two sides to Colonel, Jerry and I witnessed both.”

Tom Hanks is correct in his appraisal of the Colonel

Though Tom Hanks has played many roles over his career, the Colonel led nearly as many lives. A former dog catcher, Parker did a stint in the Army before getting into music promotion. Though many believe Parker took advantage of Elvis, The Colonel was quick to point out his handy work. “When I found Elvis, the boy had had nothing but $1 million worth of talent,” Parker said to the Associated Press 1957. “Now he has $1 million.” Of course, the Colonel infamously overcharged his superstar talent. Though managers usually get 10% of their clients’ royalties, the Colonel got 50% from Elvis.

Tom Hanks will next be seen in the live-action remake of Pinocchio for Disney. The film will be directed by frequent collaborator (and Forrest Gump director) Robert Zemeckis. Set for a September release, Hanks will be playing toymaker Geppetto.