Meet the Elvis cast — who’s who in Baz Lurhmann’s Elvis movie biopic

AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis, HELEN THOMSON as Gladys, TOM HANKS as Colonel Tom Parker and RICHARD ROXBURGH as Vernon in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
(Image credit: Warner Bros/Hugh Stewart)

Baz Lurhmann, the flamboyant director of The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge! has produced a bright, glittery movie about Elvis Presley that’s full of music, color and movement. Elvis the movie has a massive scope, covering Presley’s life from his childhood — growing up in poverty in the deep south of America with the influence of Black culture (evangelical church, gospel and blues) — to his early years as a singer on the Country Music circuit, his discovery by the shady Colonel Tom Parker and rise to fame and all the way to his all-too-early death, at 42. It’s a film that tells the story of America in the 50s, 60s and 70s alongside the story of The King and, as a result, it’s packed full of references to key figures in popular culture and has a huge cast of characters.

So, who's who in Elvis the movie? Here’s our guide to everyone to look out for, from the main cast to all the cameo appearances.

Austin Butler is Elvis Presley, aka The King

Austin Butler as Elvis in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

(Image credit: Warner Bros/Trent Mitchell)

Austin Butler takes on the title role of Elvis Presley and according to most critics (including our own What to Watch film reviewer), he's done an outstanding job. Walking the fine line between caricature and inhabiting a character is a difficult one — especially when that character is as iconic as The King of rock and roll and has been memed, mimicked and impersonated for decades.

Even more difficult is Butler has to play Elvis from his teenage early days, starting out as a group singer, all the way through to Elvis in his mid-forties, overweight, worn down by life and addiction and yet still managing to put on a show that casts a spell on everyone watching. To believably hit that range of experience is a tough act — but Butler nails it. He's one to watch for the future.

Where have you seen Austin Butler before? Starting out in Disney roles (like so many actors and entertainers), Butler has had lead roles in The Carrie Diaries and The Shannara Chronicles.

Tom Hanks is Colonel Tom Parker

TOM HANKS as Colonel Tom Parker in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama ELVIS, a Warner Bros. Picture

Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis movie. (Image credit: Warner Bros/Hugh Stewart)

Colonel Tom Parker (not his real name) was Elvis' manager and business partner — and all-round bad egg. Colonel Tom — actually a Dutch national called Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk — was a carnival con-man who changed his name, faked his military background and then moved into music promotion where we worked with various acts, including Hank Snow. Once he found Elvis and realized how rich Elvis could make him, he stuck limpet-like to his new protégé controlling what he wore, ate, drank and did — including encouraging him to serve in the Military, marry Priscilla and do Las Vegas concerts for so many years.

Tom Hanks transforms himself to play Colonel Tom with prosthetics, a bald wig and an odd (not Dutch) accent. We don't think he pulls it off, in fact, we'd go so far as to say he's the weak link in the movie, but you judge for yourself. Outside of this movie Hanks is an established dramatic actor with an impressive list of leading roles including six Academy Award nominations and two wins (for Philadelphia, 1993 and Forrest Gump, 1994) as well as seven Emmy wins. Most recently he's appeared in the western, News of the World and next up is the live-action remake of Pinocchio.

Helen Thomson is Gladys Presley

Helen Thomson as Gladys Presley

(Image credit: Baz Lurhmann/Warner Bros.)

Elvis was close to his mother, Gladys. She adored him and he worshipped her. When she died young — aged just 46, while he was serving in the Army — he was devastated.

Helen Thomson is an Australian actress, known for her TV work in Jane Campion drama Top of the Lake (with Elisabeth Moss), Blue Heelers and Bad Mothers.

Richard Roxburgh is Vernon Presley 

Richard Roxburgh as Vernon Presley

(Image credit: Baz Luhrmann/Warner Bros.)

Vernon Presley had a huge influence on his son Elvis after Elvis' mum Gladys died. He managed his Graceland estate, looked after Elvis' finances and even went with him on tour. He was probably a little too fond of the benefits that the rock star lifestyle could bring him, to make sure his son was being treated well.

Also from Baz Lurhmann's home country Richard Roxburgh is an Australian actor who's worked on a huge variety of shows and movies including Rake, Van Helsing (2004), and Moulin Rouge! (2001) which Lurhmann directed. 

Olivia Dejonge is Priscilla Presley

Olivia DeJonge attends the Elvis UK Special Screening at BFI Southbank on May 31 2022 in London England Photo by Mike MarslandWireImage

(Image credit: Getty)

Priscilla Beaulieu met Elvis Presley in Germany when she was just 14 years old and he was serving in the Army.  They kept in touch after he returned to the US, finally marrying eight years later, in 1967. Elvis and Priscilla had one child, a daughter Lisa Marie, before becoming estranged and eventually divorcing.

Australian actress, Olivia DeJonge has most recently been seen in the true-crime drama The Staircase as well as TNT's young Shakespeare TV series, Will.

Kelvin Harrison Jr. is B.B. King

Kelvin Harrison Jr. as B.B. King in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis

(Image credit: Baz Luhrmann/Warner Bros.)

One of the most influential American R&B singer-songwriter-guitarists in music history, B.B. King had a stream of hits from the 1950s through to the 1990s — including "The Thrill Is Gone", "Is You Is or Is You Ain't (My Baby)" and the 1987 collaboration with Irish rock band U2, "When Love Comes to Town".

B.B. King on his friend, "Elvis was different. He was friendly. I remember Elvis distinctly because he was handsome and quiet and polite to a fault. Spoke with this thick molasses Southern accent and always called me ‘Sir.’ I liked that. I liked his voice, though I had no idea he was getting ready to conquer the world."

Kelvin Harrison Jr. has been acting since he was a teen, in movies as diverse as It Comes at Night, The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Cyrano

David Wenham is Hank Snow

David Wenham as Hank Snow in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis

(Image credit: Baz Luhrmann/Warner Bros.)

Hank Snow was a Canadian country music singer in the 1950s who was popular in the early part of Elvis' career. After his son, Jimmie Snow heard Elvis on the radio — playing his first record “That’s All Right” — he encouraged Elvis to join Hank's small-town tour. It was on that tour that Colonel Tom first set eyes on his golden ticket...

David Wenham is probably best known for his role as Faramir in The Lord of the Rings but has also starred in Top of the Lake (alongside Olivia DeJonge), Van Helsing, as well as Baz Lurhmann, films Australia and Moulin Rouge! 

Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jimmie Rodgers Snow

Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jimmie Rodgers Snow in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis

(Image credit: Baz Luhrmann/Warner Bros.)

Son of country music star, Hank Snow, Jimmie Snow started out in his father's footsteps before becoming a Pastor. As Lurhmann's film has it, Jimmie heard Elvis on the radio and spotted his teen audience appeal and brought him onto his father's tour. He was also the host of Grand Ole Gospel Time at the Grand Ole Opry.

Kodi Smit-McPhee was last seen on the big screen besting Benedict Cumberbatch in a game of wits and cunning, in Jane Campion's The Power of the Dog. He's also appeared in films include Dolemite is my Name, Dark Phoenix and as The Boy, in the 2009 dystopian drama The Road.

Shonka Dukureh as “Big Mama” Thornton

Shonka Dukureh as Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton in Elvis movie

(Image credit: Baz Luhrmann/WB/Instagram)

Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton was an American singer-songwriter whose popular blues song, "Hound Dog", was later recorded by Elvis and turned into a smash hit — which became Elvis' longest-running number one.

The late Shonka Dukureh (who died in July aged just 44), was a sensational vocalist who also collaborated with artist Doja Cat on the song "Vegas" which is a Hound Dog/Doja Cat original mashup that has pride of place on the Elvis soundtrack.

Dacre Montgomery is Steve Binder

Dacre Montgomery as Steve Binder in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis

(Image credit: Baz Luhrmann/Warner Bros.)

Steve Binder was a director who (in Luhrmann's words) "was responsible for the iconic 1968 television special, often referred to as Elvis' comeback." He saw the potential to break Elvis out of the cheesy money-making commercial stunts that the Colonel had him doing and get him back to his raw musical potential.

Yet another Aussie in the cast, Dacre Montgomery is best known for his role as Billy Hargrove in the Netflix fantasy drama Stranger Things. He was also in 2017's Power Rangers movie and the Selena Gomez-produced rom-com The Broken Hearts Gallery.

Luke Bracey is Jerry Schilling

Actor Luke Bracey as Jerry Schilling for the Elvis movie

(Image credit: Warner Bros/Baz Luhrmann/Instagram)

Schilling was a close friend of Elvis since they were both teenagers. He was a member of Elvis' infamous "Memphis Mafia". He's now a film producer (Elvis & Nixon, Heartbreak Hotel) and a talent agent. 

An Australian actor who started out in the long-running series Home & Away before getting roles in Point Break (2015), Little Fires Everywhere and Hacksaw Ridge.

Yola is Sister Rosetta Tharpe

YOLA as Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

(Image credit: Warner Bros/Kane Skennar)

Rosetta Tharpe was a Gospel singer and electric guitarist in 1930s and 40s America. She was referred to as "The Godmother of rock and roll" and her hit "Strange Things Happening Every Day", was considered the first true rock and roll record.

Yola, aka Yolanda Claire Quartey, is a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter. She makes a cameo appearance in Elvis performing in a late-night club on Memphis' legendary Beale Street. If you want to check out what the fuss is all about she's playing at Glastonbury 2022.

Alton Mason is Little Richard

Alton Mason as Little Richard in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis

Alton Mason as Little Richard. (Image credit: Baz Luhrmann/Warner Bros.)

A flamboyant rock & roll showman, Little Richard's hits included "Tutti Frutti", "Long Tall Sally" and "Good Golly Miss Molly." He was one of the first crossover musicians, reaching audiences of all races, a rarity in those times. Presley was so impressed by him he covered four of his songs and called him "the greatest".

Fashion model Alton Mason, who makes his acting debut, as Little Richard in Elvis, is yet another electric musical cameo appearance in the film. Little Richard's swaggeringly confident performance is a pivotal moment — it comes just as Elvis is starting to doubt himself and his musical instincts. Elvis watches a charismatic performer who makes his own rules and gets back in the game.

Natasha Bassett is Dixie Locke

Natasha Bassett as Dixie Locke in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Natasha Bassett as Dixie Locke. (Image credit: Warner Bros/Kane Skennar)

Poor old Dixie Locke was Elvis' first serious girlfriend. We say "poor Dixie" because as soon as fame beckons, Elvis heads out of the door, off on tour with barely a backward glance at Dixie. She's a footnote in time, but she does make it into the movie — which is something, we guess.

Natasha Bassett who plays Dixie is yet another Aussie cast member. (We guess Luhrmann used the pandemic to recruit close to home!) She's had her own experience of portraying a famous singer, playing Britney Spears in the 2017 Lifetime biopic Britney Ever After.

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Louise Okafor

I've worked in content strategy, editorial and audience development for leading film and TV companies for over 15 years. Always fascinated by digital trends, I'm currently obsessed with FilmTok. You can also find me extolling the virtues of classic TV shows like Fringe, Smallville and The West Wing, romance movies, Wong Kar Wei's back catalogue and anything that involves Monty Don/Gardener's World.