Was Kurt Russell’s Voice in “Forrest Gump” as Elvis Presley?

In Forrest Gump (1994), there is a scene where the young Forrest Gump is dancing while a young man staying at Gump’s mom’s house plays the guitar and sings. The viewer immediately recognizes the singer character as Elvis Presley, who learns some of his dance moves from the kid. But did you recognize the voice of the actor playing Elvis? It was Kurt Russell.

Kurt Russell is not credited with the role, but many observers have recognized his voice for the actor Peter Dobson. While some have debated whether or not it is really Russell, IMDb lists Russell as providing the voice. Also, reportedly, the DVD commentary to the film confirms Russell’s participation.

Below is the Elvis scene from Forrest Gump. Do you recognize Russell’s voice for the young Elvis? By the way, the later scene of Elvis on television is of course the real Elvis with his real voice.

Russell as Elvis in Other Movies

Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis knew that Russell had played Elvis in the 1979 made-for-TV film Elvis, directed by John Carpenter. So, he concluded that Russell, who was by then too old to appear as the young Elvis, would be ideal to provide the Elvis voice in Forrest Gump.

In this scene from Elvis, Russell plays the young Elvis. Interestingly, Carpenter did not use Russell’s voice for the singing Elvis in the movie. Singer Ronnie McDowell, whose first hit was the 1977 song “The King is Gone,” provided the voice for Russell’s Elvis when he was singing.

Russell would reprise his Elvis skills in the Las Vegas heist film 3000 Miles to Graceland. In that 2001 film, Russell works with Kevin Costner to plan a Las Vegas robbery during an Elvis Presley impersonators convention.

Besides dressing as an Elvis impersonator in 3000 Miles to Graceland, Russell also portrayed Elvis in the music video for Presley’s “Such a Night,” which was featured on the soundtrack for the movie.

Russell With Elvis

Those movie appearances as Elvis (or an Elvis impersonator), however, are not Kurt Russell’s only connection to Elvis. When Russell was a child actor, he briefly appeared in It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963).

In that movie, Russell appeared onscreen to kick the King. In the film, Elvis had paid the young boy to kick him so he could meet the nurse at the fairground.

It Happened at the World’s Fair was Russell’s first movie appearance. At that time, Elvis was 27 years old; and Russell would later be 27 years old when he portrayed Elvis in Elvis.

In this segment from Turner Classic Movies, Russell tells the story about meeting Elvis and about portraying him on film.

And that is the story behind the movie and Russell’s connections to Elvis Presley, who was born on January 8, 1935.

Do you think it is Russell’s voice in Forrest Gump? Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • Who Was Poor Old Johnnie Ray?
  • Elvis Presley’s Movie Debut: “Love Me Tender”
  • 3 a.m. Albums: Elvis Presley’s “The Jungle Room Sessions”
  • Johnny Cash Imitating Elvis
  • When a Hockey Team Made Us Believe in Miracles
  • 8 Things About Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight”
  • (Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)

    When a Hockey Team Made Us Believe in Miracles

    On February 22, 1980, the U.S. hockey team shocked the world with a 4-3 victory over the Soviet Union team at the XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York. As time expired, sportscaster Al Michaels asked television viewers a question that he immediately answered, “Do you believe in Miracles? Yes!”

    The U.S. team went on to win the gold medal two days later with a victory over Finland.

    The 1980 Team and the Miracle on Ice

    Although the U.S. team entered the Olympics seeded seventh, the team was more than a rag-tag group of amateurs. A large percentage of the team was made up of top college athletes on their way to the NHL. And Coach Herb Brooks had the team in top shape, as it was led by players like Mike Eruzione and goalie Jim Craig.

    The “Miracle on Ice” resonated with Americans weary from the Iran hostage crisis searching for something to celebrate. Events from the 1970s like Watergate also contributed to the fact that Americans yearned to be proud again.

    Also, President Carter had already announced that the U.S. would be boycotting the 1980 summer Olympics in Moscow because of the Soviet’s invasion of Afghanistan. So it was not surprising that a scrappy group of young men taking on the powerful Soviet hockey team in the Winter Olympics would bring us together.

    In the U.S., we watched the game on tape delay during prime time. The game had already been played several hours earlier in the day. But in those pre-Internet days, it was easy to believe you were still seeing it live.

    As we watched the end of the final period, hoping the U.S. would keep the Soviets from tying the score, had we ever seen a more tense final few minutes to a sporting event?

    I was a kid, but I remember watching every U.S. hockey game in the Olympics. By some chance, I had caught the U.S.’s first game against Sweden when the U.S. tied the game with seconds left. From then on, I loved the team, and for me it was my luck that the team would go on to win the gold medal.

    Portrayals on TV and Film

    I also love sports movies, and the story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team is probably the only sports story where I own both an acted-out version of the story and the documentary. I have never seen the 1981 ABC made-for-TV movie Miracle on Ice starring Karl Malden as Brooks, but there would be later excellent movies about the team.

    The 2004 movie, Miracle, starring Kurt Russell as coach Herb Brooks, is a gripping by-the-book re-telling of the story of the team. You know how the movie is going to end and there is nothing flashy about the way the story is filmed.  But it is a fun movie and a fitting tribute to the team and to Brooks, who passed away after principal filming but before the movie was released.

    Documentaries About the Teams

    In 2001, a documentary was made about the team called Do You Believe In Miracles? The Story Of The 1980 U.S. Hockey Team. The movie features interviews with many of the players, Al Michaels, and others.

    The film does an excellent job putting the team and its accomplishments in the context of the times. And watching the story still makes me tear up. Currently, the entire documentary is available on YouTube.

    But what about the Soviets? More recently, in 2015 ESPN’s 30 for 30 series helped correct the imbalance of the coverage with Of Miracles and Men, directed by Jonathan Hock. This fascinating documentary examines the story of the members of the 1980 Soviet team and their experience in the Olympics. One of the most touching moments is hearing one of the players describe watching the U.S. team celebrate their victory.

    Similarly, another documentary examined the Soviet side of the story. Gabe Polsky directed Red Army, which was released in 2014.  Red Army tells the story about the Soviet team from a broader perspective but with significant focus on the 1980 team. The movie follows the history of the Soviet-Russian hockey program from the 1950s to the 1990s.

    On this anniversary of one of the greatest sports battles in my lifetime, I’m thankful for everyone involved in the game. And also thankful that decades later they made outstanding movies about the teams.

    What is your memory of the 1980 Miracle on Ice? Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • 10 Best True-Life Sports Movies
  • Was Kurt Russell’s Voice in “Forrest Gump” as Elvis Presley?
  • 8 Things About Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight”
  • What Song Did Jennifer Jason Leigh Sing in “The Hateful Eight”?
  • (Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)

    8 Things About Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight”

    The Hateful Eight (2015), billed as the eighth film from Quentin Tarantino, is a Western set in the post-Civil War years on the American frontier. The movie stars Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Walton Goggins, and others. Ennio Morricone, who wrote great music for many of the classic spaghetti Westerns, provides the musical score for The Hateful Eight (although the song that Jennifer Jason Leigh sings is an old Australian folk song).

    Whether or not you like the three-hour film may largely depend on how you feel about the violence and other aspects of Tarantino’s films. While most regard Pulp Fiction (1994) as a masterpiece (and I agree), his movies since Jackie Brown (1997) have delved into brutal areas that divide viewers. So, instead of a regular review, below are “8 Things About The Hateful Eight.”

    1. Tarantino remains a master at building tension by featuring conversations inevitably leading up to an explosion of violence.

    2. I liked Tarantino’s decision about showing the movie in Ultra Panavision 70mm. I like the format for films, although because the movie was a Western I expected more outdoor shots. Instead it was set largely indoors (“four-fifths” of the film, by one count), arguably somewhat wasting the beauty of the format.

    3. But the indoor setting highlighted similarities between the approach of The Hateful Eight to Tarantino’s classic Reservoir Dogs (1992), focusing on the interactions between characters with flashbacks to solve mysteries.

    4. Depending on your point of view, The Hateful Eight comments on America’s brutality, racism, and misogyny both today and in the post-Civil War frontier. Or Tarantino unnecessarily overuses the n-word and imposes violence against a woman as a sort of running joke. Or maybe it is a little of both, but the film certainly goes over the top at points.

    5. Some folks loved the movie. The Guardian headlines “Tarantino triumphs with a western of wonder.” There is some talk of a Best Picture Academy Award nomination. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 75% Critics rating and a 79% Audience rating.

    6. Some folks hated the movie, arguing that the movie is not about big American themes but instead is just a bunch of talk as an excuse to lead to violent killings. Matt Zoller Seitz on RogerEbert.com concludes that “there’s no detectable moral framework to speak of.” Similarly, The Atlantic calls it a “Gory Epic in Search of Meaning.” In an insightful conclusion, Seitz raises an interesting question about Tarantino: “It’s hard to shake the suspicion that, deep down, he believes in nothing but sensation, and that he’s spent the last decade or so stridently identifying with oppressed groups so that he can get a gold star for making the kinds of films he’d be making anyway.”

    7. Samuel L. Jackson is a great actor who should have won an Academy Award by now.

    8. The movie kept me entertained and some of it was brilliant, but some of the language and violence were unnecessarily distracting. One killing near the end was ridiculous and overly cruel, although the final scene was great. After watching the film, I felt like I needed to do something to wash my brain of all the nastiness. I went home and watched an Anthony Mann Western.

    What did you think of “The Hateful Eight”? Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • What Song Did Jennifer Jason Leigh Sing in “The Hateful Eight”?
  • Cartoonish Gunfire But Brutal Slavery in “Django Unchained” (Review)
  • Was Kurt Russell’s Voice in “Forrest Gump” as Elvis Presley?
  • When a Hockey Team Made Us Believe in Miracles
  • What If “Pulp Fiction” Were a 1980s Video Game?
  • “Nebraska” Is More than Bruce Dern (Short Review)
  • (Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)

    What Song Did Jennifer Jason Leigh Sing in “The Hateful Eight”?

    In one of the rare touching moments in Quentin Tarantino’s film The Hateful Eight (2015), the captured fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) picks up a guitar and sings a song about a prisoner on a ship. Although Domergue eventually adds a few lines of her own about getting revenge upon her captor John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) and escaping to Mexico, the song itself is a traditional Australian folk song called “Jim Jones at Botany Bay,” or sometimes simply “Jim Jones.”

    “Jim Jones at Botany Bay”

    The song refers to the first Australian penal colony, Botany Bay, where England sent convicts beginning in 1788. Star Trek fans may recognize the name because the ship that carried Khan Noonien Singh and his comrades was named the S.S. Botany Bay after the penal colony.

    In “Jim Jones at Botany Bay,” the singer Jim Jones is an English convict who has been sentenced to ride the ship to the penal colony, although the judge first threatened to hang him. On the trip, the men on the ship repel a group of pirates, but Jones thinks, “I’d rather joined that pirate ship than come to New South Wales.”

    Jones dreams of escaping and joining “the bold bushrangers there Jack Donahue and Company.”

    And some dark night when everything is silent in this town,
    I’ll kill the tyrants one by one and shoot the floggers down;
    I’ll give the law a little shock, remember what I say;
    They’ll yet regret they sent Jim Jones in chains to Botany Bay.

    The song was first published in 1907, although The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature notes that scholars speculate that the song was written around 1830 because of the reference to the bushranger Jack Donahue (sometimes spelled “John Donohoe”). Donahue was an Irishman sentenced to Australia in 1825. But he later escaped, forming gangs that stole from wealthy land owners. He eventually was killed in a shootout in New South Wales.

    So, the song would have been around during the years after the Civil War, which is the setting for The Hateful Eight. And it might not be unusual for someone like Daisy Domergue to be fond of a ballad about another outlaw.

    Versions of the Song

    “Jim Jones at Botany Bay” has been performed and recorded by a number of singers. Bob Dylan recorded “Jim Jones” for his Good As I Been To You (1992) album. You may hear a clip of Bob Dylan’s version on his website.

    The video below features Old Crow Medicine Show performing the song at Byron Bay Bluesfest in 2010. Check it out.

    For a complete recording of “Jim Jones at Botany Bay,” below is a version by Australian singer-songwriter Gary Shearston.

    In modern decades, the song has been used as a song of defiance as it was in The Hateful Eight. For example, English folksinger A.L. “Bert” Lloyd sang ““Jim Jones at Botany Bay”” at London’s Westminster Hall during a rally in support of releasing political activist Angela Davis in the 1970s. So, whenever you are feeling a bit rebellious, crank up “Jim Jones at Botany Bay.”

    And that is the Story Behind the Song.

    Photo via YouTube. Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • 8 Things About Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight”
  • Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel”: How Broonzy, Crudup, Dylan, OCMS and a School Band Made a Hit Song
  • A Hard Rain, Lord Randall, and the Start of a Revolution
  • When Bob Dylan’s Ship Comes In
  • Was Kurt Russell’s Voice in “Forrest Gump” as Elvis Presley?
  • The True Story of Tom Dooley
  • (Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)