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.
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