EXCLUSIVE: Historical drama Elvis & Nixon has set two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey to play President Richard Nixon opposite Oscar nominee Michael Shannon as rock ‘n’ roller Elvis Presley as the reconfigured project hits AFM this week. Written by actor Cary Elwes with Hanala and Joey Sagal, Elvis & Nixon centers on the historic 1970 meeting between King and the president that famously yielded one of the more curious White House photo ops in pop culture history.
Liza Johnson (Hateship Loveship, Return) is directing Elvis & Nixon, which The Butler’s Cassian Elwes is producing with Holly Wiersma. Byron Wetzel is executive producing alongside Tim Smith and Paul Brett for Prescience, which is backing the project. Bloom’s Alex Walton and Ken Kao are taking Elvis & Nixon to foreign buyers at AFM. CAA and Elwes are co-repping domestic rights.
More about that meeting: On the morning of December 21, 1970, Presley showed up on the White House lawn asking to speak with the president at the height of his revived rock ‘n’ roll stardom. President Nixon received him in the Oval Office, where they discussed the patriotic Presley’s views on drug use and hippies (he didn’t care for either, though he would develop an addiction to barbiturates), and the King asked to be sworn in as an undercover federal agent, leaving behind a gifted Colt .45 for the president. Less than four years after their powwow, Nixon resigned over the Watergate scandal; three years after that, Presley was dead at 42.
Elvis & Nixon unfolds during the course of a week. Eric Bana and Danny Huston once were attached to the roles, but it’s a new package that’s also seen some script revisions that Bloom is introducing this week in Santa Monica. Filming is slated for an early 2015 start. “It’s almost hard to fathom this story which evolved in the Oval Office between these two extraordinary men,” said Walton. “It’s almost too good to be true.”
Shannon, seen recently as General Zod in Warners’ Man Of Steel and the Toronto hot title 99 Homes, just finished his run on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, which ended last month after five seasons. He’s repped by CAA, Wetzel Entertainment and Morris Yorn.
Spacey also is enjoying small-screen acclaim with his Netflix series House Of Cards, which returns for its third season next year. He’ll reprise his role in WB’s comedy sequel Horrible Bosses 2, in theaters November 26. He’s repped by CAA and Joanne Horowitz Management.
Bloom is in production on Shane Black thriller The Nice Guys, starring Russell Crowe, and in post on Gus Van Sant’s The Sea Of Trees, starring Matthew McConaughey. They’re at AFM with Michael Apted’s Unlocked with Noomi Rapace, Renny Harlin’s Jackie Chan starrer Skiptrace and the John Moore-helmed The Hunters as well as the Gillian Flynn adaptation Dark Places, starring Charlize Theron; Liam Neeson actioner A Walk Among The Tombstones; The Woman In Black: Angel of Death; soccer biopic Pele; Jane Got A Gun, starring Natalie Portman; and Out Of The Dark, starring Julia Stiles and Scott Speedman.