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Every movie based on real events fictionalizes or romanticizes certain moments for entertainment purposes. That is no different in Elvis, especially with a director as stylish as Baz Luhrmann. There are moments in Elvis that did actually happen and some that are embellished. The biographer for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s manager, debunks several moments from Luhrmann’s biopic that didn’t happen as portrayed in the movie by Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks plays Colonel Tom Parker in ‘Elvis’

Tom Hanks, who plays Colonel Tom Parker, attends a UK special screening of Elvis
Tom Hanks | Kate Green/Getty Images

Elvis is a musical biopic that focuses on the rise of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) as one of the biggest rockstars in the world. It also explores the relationship between Elvis and his manager Colonel Tom Parker (Hanks). The two often had a rocky relationship and while Parker did make Elvis a bonafide superstar, there were certain times when he went too far.

Parker also had a mysterious past that made him a shady character who often blurred the lines of being a criminal. The movie didn’t fully go into his shady past, but it does portray Parker as being a greedy person who cared more about money than his well-being of Elvis. However, the biographer for Parker says that the real-life person was not the antagonist the movie portrayed him to be. 

Colonel Tom Parker biographer explains what is fact or fiction in ‘Elvis’

Alanna Nash published a book in 2010 titled The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley, making her a prominent source on who the Colonel actually was. In an interview with Variety, Nash discussed several moments in the movie that are completely false or embellished. One moment she addressed is where the US government threatened to expose Parker if he didn’t tamper down Elvis, which she called “total and unequivocal bunk.”

“First of all, when Colonel Parker enlisted in the U.S. Army, he declared himself a Dutch citizen, with parents born in Holland,” Nash said. “That was fine — we took foreign nationals — but he just had to swear he’d become a U.S. citizen, which he never did because he went AWOL. But he worked closely with the Pentagon, planning Elvis’ army career and post-army concert to raise money for the U.S.S. Arizona monument.”

Another scene she addresses is where Elvis fired Parker while on stage. While the two almost split ways several times, Nash said this scene never happened. 

“He never fired him on stage, but there was an incident in Vegas in 1974 where Elvis criticized Barron Hilton from the stage for firing one of Elvis’s favorite employees,” Nash told Variety. “That led to a colossal shouting match afterward with Parker and talk of firing and quitting on both their parts, with Colonel ultimately presenting a bill that the Presleys could not pay. And so things resumed as they had been. Elvis would never have been so crass as to have fired Colonel from the stage.”

Hanks’s accent was also inaccurate for the character


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For those who have seen the movie, Hanks’ performance has been a mixed bag. Some enjoyed the over-the-top caricature that Hanks brings to Tom Parker in Elvis, while others find it distracting. Either way, Nash said the southern accent he’s using is inaccurate to how Parker sounded. 

“It was more American, more rural,” Nash shared. “And he had what sounded like a slight lisp or speech impediment. Turns out he didn’t have an impediment — he was just trying to wrap a Dutch tongue around the English language, Southern-style. It sounded like a weird (Southern) regional dialect, and you would know it was Dutch only by listening for certain consonants. But Baz wanted to make him seem more ‘other.’”

Elvis is now in theaters.