Long Live the King: Online Casting Call Launched for Young Elvis

Movie Talk

We're now picturing thousands of young Elvis impersonators frantically preparing audition tapes.

Many biography films increase their chances of box office success by having the real-life personality in question played by an A-list star. Curiosity, probably more than anything else, often drives audiences to see Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in "Walk the Line" (2005), Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in "Ray" (2004), Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison in "The Doors" (1991) ... and, this week at the Toronto International Film Festival, Andre Benjamin (aka Andre 3000) as Jimi Hendrix in "All Is By My Side."

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But the new biography film about The King himself is going a completely different route. The producers of "Last Train to Memphis" are looking for an unknown to play Elvis Presley ... and they've announced a major online casting call.

Think you got what it takes to play Elvis, or at least an 18-22-year-old Elvis? Hopeful contenders should head over to YoungElvisCasting.com, where you'll find guidelines on how to create the ideal audition tape as well as sides from the script. But you better be able to croon 6-8 bars of any Elvis song from before 1957.

It's an interesting approach to casting, especially since The King is known and loved all over the world. One thing's for sure: There probably won't be an online petition to un-cast whoever they end up casting, because whoever they end up casting probably didn't appear in "Gigli."

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"Last Train to Memphis" is based on a two-volume biography by Peter Guralnick, a critic and historian of American pop music: "Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley" (published in 1994) and "Careless Love: The Unmasking of Elvis Presley" (published in 1999). Guralnick chronicled Presley's life as a rise and fall arc across a total of over 1,300 pages, taking an in-depth, clean and scholarly approach that served as a sharp contrast to the more typical sensational writing style of other well-known biographies. Guarnick was praised for stripping away the myth and legend that was 'Elvis Presley' as he sought to reveal the man behind the sequined curtain.

Therein lies the challenge. Guralnick is more interested in the man than the performer, and if the filmmakers follow suit, the ideal choice to play Elvis Presley is going to have to do a lot more than just sing well and do funny things with his upper lip.

The King has been portrayed on the big screen several times before, whether it be realistically by Kurt Russell in John Carpenter's TV movie "Elvis" (1979) or more fantastically by Val Kilmer in "True Romance" (1993) and Bruce Campbell in "Bubba Ho-Tep" (2002).

Whatever lucky unknown gets the part in "Last Train to Memphis," he'll (presumably) be joining quite the distinguished thespian club, and have some king-sized shoes to fill.

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