Elvis Presley: The uncredited Hollywood legend who voiced The King in Forrest Gump
Elvis Presley stars in ‘It Happened at the World's Fair’ in 1963
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Forrest Gump sees Tom Hanks’ title character come across a number of historical figure throughout his fictional life story. Early on in the Robert Zemeckis movie, an undiscovered Elvis Presley played by Peter Dobson stays at the Gump house and learns his Hound Dog dance from Forrest. But it turns out an uncredited Hollywood legend provided the voice of The King for the movie scene.
It’s long been rumoured that Kurt Russell voiced Elvis in the movie, which he confirmed to GQ a couple of years ago. The now 70-year-old said: “I did that as a thing for Bob [Zemeckis].”
It turns out that the director wanted a different Elvis voice from the one Dobson recorded in the movie, so called Kurt up.
The actor continued: “He didn’t like what it was and said, ‘I need something real bad.’
“I didn’t know if, to be honest with you, Bob was doing it on the sly. In other words, the actor didn’t know.”
Nevertheless, Kurt recorded the vocal part for Elvis in the movie, admitting: “It was fun to do.”
As for why Zemeckis asked him to do it, it must be down to the fact that he played The King in 1979 TV movie Elvis.
Interestingly, Kurt’s first acting role was opposite Elvis himself in 1963 movie It Happened At The World’s Fair.
Just 11-years-old at the time, the future star had to kick The King in the shins so his character Mike Edwards had an excuse to go and see the nurse he fancied.
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During the shoot, Kurt had to kick Elvis around 15 times, so The King ended up wearing a pad for protection.
The 70-year-old remembered: “One time I got close to the edge of it and he looked at me, because he really trusted me, and went ‘…stay on the pad’.
“What a nice guy he was. Yeah. He was 27 years old. He was really cool. An incredibly nice guy.”
He and Elvis filmed for a couple of weeks together and would play catch and chat about baseball.
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Kurt’s father was film actor Bing Russell, who had been in The Magnificent Seven and Elvis wanted to meet him to ask a question.
Kurt remembered: “He loved the way my dad wore his hat.”
“He said, ‘Mr Russell, would you mind if I wore my hat that way?’ He was really serious about it.”
Two years after The King died, Bing would end up playing his father Vernon Presley opposite Kurt’s take on Elvis in that TV movie.
Kurt even got to see Elvis live in Las Vegas twice before he died at 42-years-old in August 1977.
He remembered how The King was in great shape the first time around, however he was so overweight the second time he saw him that the audience gasped when he came on stage.
Nevertheless, Kurt said: “I’m telling you, God’s honest truth, thirty seconds later, he was Elvis. What I realised about that was, which I drew on later on, he was living it. He was just doing what he was doing, and had gone to the ‘oh, f** it’ state, and he was fantastic.
“He knew it didn’t matter if he weighed a thousand pounds. The performance, it made it sort of even better. He was moving into a different zone, and becoming like Pavarotti, or something.”
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