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MFF Special: Kurt Russell’s Long History With Elvis Presley

March 16, 2016
We here at MFF love Kurt Russell. We just dedicated our 50th podcast to him, and we’ve deduced that he can rock a sleeveless shirt like none other. The guy is perennially underrated and always entertaining. Also, I’m pretty sure his mustache grew so long in The Hateful Eight that it formed a fur coat around him.


This post takes on the Herculean task of tracking Russell’s cinematic Elvis experiences. Elvis and Russell have a history dating back to 1963 when a 12-year-old Russell kicked Elvis in It Happened at the World’s Fair. From 1963 to 2001 Russell has gone back to the Elvis well several times, and I feel it is my duty (or birthright) to bring this information to the masses.  The following piece is going to blow your mind and change the way you think about cinematic Elvis portrayal.

Kurt Russell shin kicked Elvis in 1963

In 1963, a 12-year-old Kurt Russell helped Elvis by kicking him in the shin. The role didn’t require much acting, but, you knew immediately that one day the kid would make for a great one-eyed killer. I love this trivia from IMDb:

Recalling the scene years later, Russell says that he didn’t want to do it, as Elvis was such a huge star and Russell was a fan of his. He says that finally Elvis paid him $5 to do it and he did. Russell would later go on to play Elvis in the TV movie, Elvis (1979)


Kurt Russell played Elvis in TV movie

The A.V. Club just released a fantastic piece about John Carpenter’s 1979 Elvis film. The made-for-TV film didn’t light the world on fire, but it proved Russell wasn’t afraid to take chances and that is noted in the A.V. Club article.

But though the swagger Russell would bring to his later starring roles for Carpenter wouldn’t be out of place in a movie about The King Of Rock ’N’ Roll, he plays Elvis as deeply vulnerable. There is never a point at which he doesn’t look like an outsider; whether as a young man with a ducktail haircut and silk shirt, or as a grown man who regularly wears a cape and sunglasses indoors, he always seems dressed for another world.


Kurt Russell’s Tombstone co-star Val Kilmer portrayed Elvis in True Romance

I love Tombstone (1993). It is a brilliant film that is quotable and stands the test of time. My favorite aspect of Tombstone is the relationship between Wyatt Earp (Russell) and Doc Holiday (Kilmer). The two actors are great together and would love to see a Tombstone 2: The Incredible O.K. Corral. One cool fact about them is they’ve both played Elvis. Val Kilmer played The King in True Romance (1993), and channels Elvis in Top Secret!. If you haven’t watched True Romance and Top Secret! do it now!

Val Kilmer Elvis


Kurt Russell voiced Elvis in Forrest Gump

Kurt Russell supplied the uncredited voice of Elvis in Forrest Gump (1994). The guy just can’t stop playing Elvis!


Kurt Russell’s Escape From L.A. costar Bruce Campbell played Elvis in Bubba Ho-Tep

Escape From L.A. is a cheeky film that features Kurt Russell playing basketball and surfing into action. During his quest he comes across Bruce Campbell’s murderous plastic surgeon. When putting together this piece it dawned on me that both of these guys have played Elvis! It was a life changing moment that proves great actors can’t stay away from oddball Elvis impersonations.

If you haven’t watched Bubba Ho-Tep you need to do it now. It is a fantastic film.

Bruce Campbell Escape from LA


Kurt Russell dressed up as Elvis in 3,000 Miles to Graceland

3,000 Miles to Graceland (2001) is a garbage pail film that netted Kurt Russell/Kevin Costner a 2001 Razzie nomination for Worst Screen Couple. The movie is a dirty little thing that features no joy, excitement or logic. The only good thing is seeing Russell dress up as Elvis one more time. The guy is a natural Elvis impersonator, and the film gave Russell’s hair another chance to shine.

The only cool thing to come from the stink bomb is it takes the Kurt Russell/Val Kilmer/Elvis world full circle. Christian Slater dressed up as Elvis in 3,000 Miles to Graceland, and received advice from Val Kilmer’s Elvis in True Romance. The Slater unites. 

3000 Miles to Graceland


There you have it! Kurt Russell has had a long and random history with Elvis Presley!




5 Comments leave one →
  1. John Leavengood permalink
    March 16, 2016 8:53 am

    Amazing how much little kid KR looks like grown-up KR. It’s all in those eyes…even some in the hair.

  2. karl permalink
    June 26, 2020 6:29 pm

    3000 miles is a fantastic film.


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