Michael Shannon: “I never imagined myself playing Elvis in a million years”

“Elvis & Nixon” is currently playing in U.S. theaters.

ELVIS & NIXON

Michael Shannon says he didn’t know much about Elvis Presley aside, from his public identity, when he was initially approached to play the role of the iconic entertainer.

The Academy Award-nominated actor brilliantly captures Presley in “Elvis & Nixon,” a film which is based on an actual encounter that took place on December 21, 1970 where The King of Rock ’n’ Roll showed up on the lawn of the White House to request a meeting with President Richard Nixon.

ELVIS & NIXON

With Kevin Spacey as Nixon, the film tells the story behind this revealing, yet humorous, moment in the Oval Office which is forever immortalized in the most requested photograph in the National Archives.

“Once I started working on the part, I realized he was much more complicated than he typically gets credit for,” says the actor who was nominated for an Oscar for “Revolutionary Road.”

To get a better understanding of the man behind the aviator shades, Shannon visited Graceland and Memphis’ legendary Sun Studios, where Presley launched his recording career. He also traveled to the Presley’s childhood home.

“The thing that really blew my mind was when I went to Lauderdale Courts, the subsidized housing project in Memphis where Elvis lived when he was in high school. They preserved this tiny apartment where he lived with his parents, and you can walk into Elvis’ bedroom. I stood in that room imagining him as a teenager sitting on his bed, looking out the window and dreaming about what he wanted to do with his life. That really stuck with me.”

ELVIS & NIXON

Certainly one of the most entertaining movies of the year, director Liza Johnson has put together as delightful fictionalization of real-life moments. As the film opens, Elvis (Shannon), disturbed by what he sees as the breakdown of values among the youth of America has penned a letter to Nixon offering a business proposition and requesting to meet, but Nixon is in no mood to humor the legendary rocker. Undeterred, Jerry and Elvis’ sidekick Sonny (Johnny Knoxville) hatch a deal for Elvis to sign an autograph for Nixon’s daughter Julie in exchange for face time with the president.

ELVIS & NIXON

“One of the most intimidating things for me was that nobody really ever talked like Elvis,” Shannon continues. “It’s not just a southern accent. I’d never heard an accent like it in my life. So on set I’d either be listening to my CD or thinking about Elvis.”

Shannon and Spacey as Elvis and Nixon have natural screen chemistry and delight in this absurd and comic juxtaposition of the world’s most charismatic rock icon and America’s least rock ’n’ roll president.

“Elvis & Nixon” is currently playing in U.S. theaters.

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