‘Elvis’: Tom Hanks Says He Was Shocked to Land Role as Colonel Tom Parker

by Samantha Whidden

While promoting his new biopic “Elvis,” Tom Hanks revealed he was shocked that even landed the film’s role, to begin with. 

During his appearance on “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” the “Elvis” star talks about his reaction to being cast as Colonel Tom Parker in the biopic. “I am laid beneath five hours of makeup,” Hanks declared about his character’s appearance. “When I first met with [director] Baz Luhrmann, I said, ‘Can I ask you a question, Baz? Why are you talking to me about a movie about Elvis Presley? ‘Cause I don’t see any – who am I gonna play?’”

Recalling what the “Elvis” director told him, Tom Hanks also shared, “He said, ‘No, this is about Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis.’ I said, ‘Ah, all right. Could you do me a favor, please? Show me what Colonel Tom Parker looks like?’ Cause I have never seen a photograph of him; never heard his voice. You know, I think ‘Colonel Tom Parker – what is he? Does he make chicken on the weekend?’”

When the “Elvis” director showed Tom Hanks the photograph, the actor had yet another question. “Why is it you talking to me about playing this guy?” Hanks then asked. Meyers then asked if he was offended by the role. “I was not offended,” Hanks recalled. “I said, ‘Ah, you see me as a man of infinite opportunity.’ All you have to do is say, ‘Tom, Tom just sit in this chair for five hours and we’ll do all the rest.’”

Colonel Tom Parker was best known for being Elvis Presley’s manager. Before music, Parker helped assist in Jimmie Davis’ campaign to become Governor of Louisiana. After being named governor, Davis gave Parker the honorary rank of “colonel” in the Lousiana State Militia.

Tom Hanks Recalls ‘Elvis’ Director Baz Luhrmann Having Him Audition for Colonel Tom Parker 

Tom Hanks spoke to PopSugar about how he first met with “Elvis” director Baz Luhrmann. He then shared what drew him to the role of Colonel Tom Parker. 

“[Luhrmann] says, ‘I want this movie to start with, essentially, Colonel Tom Parker saying, ‘I didn’t kill him,’” Hanks stated. “I heard that and I said, ‘OK, the Elvis Presley story has never been told like that.’ With this new element of the guy who made all of Elvis’s dreams come true, and then also didn’t quite realize the great, grander dreams that Elvis had, I said [to Luhrmann], ‘That’s new stuff. In that case, that means you’re making a brand-new movie about Elvis.’ And I like making brand-new movies.”

Luhrmann then discussed Austin Butler being Elvis. “I made a rule that if I couldn’t find someone who could be Elvis or play him, I wouldn’t make the movie. So I kind of thought like, ‘Great, I’ll get in, do all the research, run around the world, do all the fun stuff, and not have to make the movie, because I’ll never find someone who can play Elvis.’ But [instead], I think Austin found me.”