Elvis movie BB King

Kelvin Harrison Jr., who recently played Black Panther activist Fred Hampton in Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, will soon play another larger than life figure in a new movie.

Harrison has been cast as blues icon B.B. King in Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann‘s movie about Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll. Get the details below.

Hey, remember Baz Luhrmann? He’s only directed three feature films in the past twenty years (and one big Netflix show that’s since been canceled), so I suppose some of you might have put him on the back burner. Anyway, the Australian auteur is making a comeback with an Elvis movie starring Austin Butler, the guy who played the Charles Manson acolyte Tex in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Tom Hanks is on board too, playing Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’s longtime manager who discovered the performer before he became “The King” and stuck with him throughout his entire career (although he was later found to have managed Elvis’s career in unethical ways). You may recall that Hanks tested positive for the coronavirus while shooting this movie back in March, with he and his wife, Rita Wilson, becoming the first major Hollywood celebrities to test positive. (They’re OK now.)

Enter: Kelvin Harrison Jr., the actor who has appeared in movies like Mudbound, Luce, The Photograph, The High Note, and last year’s Waves, the A24 indie film in which he delivered a powerhouse performance as a young man struggling to establish his identity under a domineering father. Harrison is playing B.B. King, the blues guitar legend who shook up the blues world with his distinct playing style and laid the foundations for generations of electric guitar players to come. He famously nicknamed all of his guitars “Lucille,” named because of a wild sequence of events that happened during one of his earliest performances in 1949; his long career lasted from that year until he died in 2015, winning 15 Grammys and recording dozens of albums along the way.

It sounds like King will be a peripheral figure in this untitled movie, which is largely about the relationship between Elvis and his manager. But Harrison is a talented young actor who has proven he can deliver intensity and soulfulness when it counts, so I look forward to seeing his interpretation of this blues legend. After shutting down production following Hanks’ COVID diagnosis, shooting ramped up once again this past September. There is no official release date slated yet.

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