More than a dozen actors have played Elvis Presley, including Kurt Russell, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon and newly crowned King Austin Butler. Others — including Bruce Campbell, Harvey Keitel and Robert Patrick — have played people who might be Elvis. If he hadn’t died in 1977 at the age of 42, that is. Here are 16 actors who have played Memphis’ favorite son and one who has paid homage to the King more than once.
Kurt Russell in “Elvis” (1979)
Russell, then best known as the young star of such Disney movies as “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes,” was eerily convincing as Elvis in this made-for-TV movie directed by John Carpenter. Russell was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his performance. It was the first collaboration for Russell and Carpenter, who went on to make “The Thing,” and several other classics.
Don Johnson in “Elvis and the Beauty Queen” (1981)
The future “Miami Vice” star stepped into Elvis’s blue suede shoes in this TV movie about the rock star’s relationship with Linda Thorson, here played by Stephanie Zimbalist.
David Keith in “Heartbreak Hotel” (1988)
The “Officer and a Gentleman” actor looks nothing like Elvis, but he has the moves down in this Chris Columbus-directed movie about a kid (Charlie Schlatter) who kidnaps The King and ends up jamming with him.
Michael St. Gerard in: “Elvis Presley: Heart of Dixie” (1989), “Great Balls of Fire!” (1989), “Elvis” (1990),” Quantum Leap” (1993)
The actor, who’s played Elvis four times, including in ABC’s 1990 series “Elvis” and the “Memphis Melody” episode of “Quantum Leap,” also played “Link” in John Waters’ 1988 film “Hairspray.” He retired from acting in 1994.
Val Kilmer in “True Romance” (1993)
Kilmer (who had just played Jim Morrison in “The Doors” in 1991), is only briefly seen as “The Mentor” to Christian Slater’s Clarence, appearing in two scenes for motivational pep talks in the Quentin Tarantino-scripted film. It’s his idea, actually, for Clarence to gun down Alabama (Patricia Arquette)’s former pimp (Gary Oldman).
Rob Youngblood in “Elvis and the Colonel: The Untold Story” (1993)
Youngblood, who looks more like Montgomery Clift than Elvis in this sub-par TV movie, also had a recurring role on “Melrose Place” as Dave Erickson, who had a crush on Matt Fielding (Doug Savant).
Nicolas Cage in “Wild at Heart” (1990) & “Honeymoon in Vegas” (1992)
While Cage has never played Elvis, the King-loving actor channeled that style and swagger in “Wild at Heart” and in “Honeymoon in Vegas,” in which he dons the iconic white jumpsuit and joins a group of impersonators called the Flying Elvises to be reunited with his girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker). And he was briefly married to Elvis’ daughter, Lisa Marie Presley.
Peter Dobson in “Forrest Gump” (1994) and “Protecting the King” (2007)
Dobson’s face is barely shown as the nice young man with a guitar who stays at Mrs. Gump’s (Sally Field) boarding house and supposedly picks up his signature moves from a young Forrest. The actor played Elvis again in the based-on-a-true-story “Protecting the King,” about Presley’s young stepbrother and bodyguard David Stanley (Matt Barr).
Rick Peters in “Elvis Meets Nixon” (1997)
This humorous hybrid drama/documentary retells the epic meeting of Elvis and Richard Nixon (Bob Gunton). Peters plays Elvis as an upbeat but fairly naive rock star who doesn’t know how to use a credit card and goes “incognito” at the airport in the same outfit in which he meets Nixon.
Harvey Keitel in “Finding Graceland” (1998)
The “Reservoir Dogs” star is an eccentric drifter who claims to be Elvis and offers advice to a young widower (Johnathon Schaech) en route to Memphis.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers in “Elvis” (2005)
The “Tudors” star won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Emmy for his portrayal of the “Hound Dog” singer in this two-part miniseries. Randy Quaid played Colonel Parker and Camryn Manheim played his mother, Gladys.
Bruce Campbell in “Bubba Ho-Tep” (2002)
In this quirky indie from the director of the “Phantasm” films, nursing home resident Campbell is either Elvis or a very confused Elvis impersonator. He and Ossie Davis (who believes he’s JFK), must team up to defeat an evil Egyptian spirit. “Never f— with the King,” says Campbell after defeating a soul-sucking scarab.
Jack White in “Walk Hard” (2007)
The White Stripes star is a cocky, karate-chopping Elvis in this biopic spoof. He confronts Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) backstage and tells him, “There’s only one man who’s the King. One night God looked down on all the millions and millions and millions of people and he decided which one was the best, and that was me.”
Robert Patrick in “Lonely Street” (2008)
Patrick, who played the father of Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ Elvis in the 2005 miniseries, here plays a mysterious man named “Mr. Aaron” — which happens to be Elvis’ middle name.
Michael Shannon in “Elvis & Nixon” (2016)
Drake Milligan in “Sun Records” (2017)
The former “American Idol” contestant, who performed his original song “Sounds Like Something I’d Do” on “America’s Got Talent” in June 2022, played the music legend in this CMT series.
Austin Butler in “Elvis” (2022)
The Presley family has given Butler’s performance in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic as the late, great music star their full blessing. Lisa Marie called it “nothing short of spectacular’ and swore on Instagram, “If Butler does not win an Oscar for the role, I will eat my own foot. You can feel and witness Baz’s pure love, care, and respect for my father throughout this beautiful film, and it is finally something that myself and my children and their children can be proud of forever.”