The Original Elvis Opening Scene Involved Tom Hanks Floating In Space [Exclusive]

"Elvis" is in theaters right now, and one might think this Baz Luhrmann biopic of the King of Rock and Roll was told from the perspective of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler). However, it's really coming from the mouth of Elvis' nefarious manager, Colonel Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks. The film begins with Parker collapsing and being rushed to the hospital. What follows are flashes of the current day (which is 1997 in the film) and the past. What the opening could have been, though, was fairly wild, according to /Film's own Jack Giroux's interview with "Elvis" editors Jonathan Redmond and Matt Villa.

Redmond said that "the opening of this movie was a tricky one to put together and it was a bit more frenetic and crazy at one point ... " Looking back at Luhrmann's work, from "The Great Gatsby" to "Moulin Rouge!," that is a loaded statement. Luhrmann is known for some huge musical numbers and pretty trippy sequences, so the idea of something crazy and frenetic is intriguing. 

Villa said that the scene where the Colonel is in a casino in his hospital gown, looking back at his life, "existed a lot more." He said:

"There was a big opening, almost a big musical number that sets that up. At one point, it wasn't even a casino that he was in at all. He was floating in space at one point and floating in the middle of a Vegas strip at other points."

That does sound very Luhrmann-y, Sort of the idea of lofty ideas for where he and his protege were going, and the heights that they soared to. Well, where Elvis soared to, anyway. I'm kind of surprised he didn't keep that in. 

Floating in space

Villa explained that the idea was to figure out how to open a film called "Elvis" from the perspective of another character. He said: 

"The opening was about how best to open a film with someone who isn't Elvis, for a start, which we were always aware was going to potentially turn people off, that they were going to want to see Elvis as fast as they could. Also, to establish this device that we were going for, which was to tell the story through the Colonel's eyes. There was the moving back and forth through time. We opened up in 1997, and then we ended up back in 1973. We had to really establish that for the audience. There was a lot to tell the audience without confounding them, which took a lot of exploration to get that balance right."

I can see why they chose not to use the floating device. Even if you know what you're going to see with a Luhrmann film, that's a lot to take in, and the choice to tell this from Parker's perspective was already going to be jarring. I think we all know how powerful an influence on culture and the world Elvis was, so no space floating needed there. 

"Elvis" stars Austin Butler and Tom Hanks, and is currently in theaters