Who Is Tom Hanks Playing in the Upcoming Elvis Presley Biopic?

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic reached Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, they were both in Australia for the pre-production phase of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley film from Warner Bros. 

While the film, according to IMDb, is scheduled to release sometime in 2021, filming will likely be delayed for the foreseeable future, so fans should not expect to receive this gem anytime soon. Yet, if the movie is like other biopics currently surfacing — Judy, Bohemian Rhapsody, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood — it will likely focus on a specific portion of the King of Rock and Roll’s life. The film will presumably highlight a period of strife, the King’s glory years, or his ascension to stardom, as opposed to delving into his entire existence (as earlier biopics often did). 

Elvis Presley
American actor and singer Elvis Presley (1935 – 1977) dancing in a stylized prison uniform | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

With Austin Butler of The Carrie Diaries, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Zoey 101, and more set to play Elvis Presley — which should come as no surprise given his dark black locks and piercing blue eyes — the movie is ready to rock and roll (too much?). Yet, who will the one and only Tom Hanks portray in the upcoming film? Tom Hanks is set to play Colonel Tom Parker. 

Who is Colonel Tom Parker, and how is he connected to Elvis Presley? 

Thomas Andrew “Colonel Tom” Parker was the Dutch-born manager of Elvis Presley, and their relationship was quite unique. One was a new force in popular music (defying cultural standards of the time), while the other was an entrepreneur with the specific skillset required to market such a musical influence.

Parker arrived in Americ at 18 years old, yet he never received a US passport, and he got to the states by jumping ship. His legal status remained uncertain throughout much of his life, and rumors suggest he may have been intertwined in a murder back in his hometown of Breda, located in the southern part of the Netherlands.

Parker never let Elvis tour overseas — which disappointed Presley fans spanning the globe — as he was presumably concerned that he would be apprehended, ending his successful life as a career man.

Even when Elvis Presley was stationed in West Germany for his two-year Army service from 1958 to 1960, Parker stayed in the United States — feet firmly planted on American soil. Yet, Parker was smart enough to see Presley’s two-year service as a marketable life stage. Fans would anxiously await his return, creating the opportunity for a glorious comeback.

Parker was originally a carnival worker, yet he worked up the ladder to a musical manager.  Parker discovered an unknown Elvis Presley in 1955 after discovering Tommy Sands — known for songs like “Crazy Cause I Love You,” “Sing Boy Sing,” “Soda Pop Pop,’ and more. 

Will the movie dive into Colonel Tom Parker too? 

While the movie will undoubtedly focus on Elvis Presley’s life, it goes without saying that a secondary plot will explore Parker’s legal status and alleged near run-ins with the law. Why sign on Tom Hanks if he’s merely going to be a secondary character without a reason for existence beyond an interdependent dynamic? 

Colonel Tom Parker boasts an interesting past and a fascinating career journey, and the writers could also use his story to weave a relevant sociopolitical statement, should they decide to take such a route.