As the story goes about the famed photograph of the notorious Commander in Chief and the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley wrote a letter to President Richard Nixon in the winter of 1970, yearning to do his part to save the nation from the counterculture.
For Presley, it wasn’t a return-to-sender affair. Rather, it was a chance to get a federal badge so he could travel with his firearms and legal prescriptions. The interaction went down during the onset of Presley’s final chapter before the weight gain but after he already alienated himself from the world.
The Nixon and Presley camps have different accounts of this story, and Elvis & Nixon director Johnson believes “all of them are somewhat true.”
“It is one of the more surreal chapters of American history,” she adds.
Elvis & Nixon marks the second time that Johnson has worked with Shannon, the first being the 2011 drama Return, about a female soldier who returns to everyday life and becomes challenged by it. “He’s the person who believed in me as a director,” Johnson says about the Oscar-nominated actor. When Elvis & Nixon came her way, Shannon already was attached to play the King, with Kevin Spacey boarding later as Nixon. “They bought the film from a trailer they saw at Cannes,” beams Johnson about Amazon Studios’ passion for the film, “No one ever buys a film off a trailer, but damn if they didn’t buy it.”
Bleecker Street Media on behalf of Amazon is opening Elvis & Nixon this weekend in 381 theaters, with previews starting tonight. The film made its world premiere as the centerpiece title at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this week.