Elvis & Nixon is a 2016 American comedy-drama film directed by Liza Johnson and written by Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal, and Cary Elwes. The film stars Kevin Spacey, Michael Shannon, Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville, Colin Hanks, Evan Peters and Ashley Benson. The films focuses on singer Elvis Presley and President Richard Nixon meeting at the White House on December 21, 1970. It was released on April 22, 2016.
On the morning of December 21, 1970, actor-singer Elvis Presley shows up to the White House and requests an urgent meeting with President Richard Nixon. Presley opposes the drug culture, the hippie movement, SDS, and Black Panthers; he wants Nixon to swear him in as an undercover agent in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Two of Nixon's senior aides, Dwight Chapin and Egil Krogh, set up a meeting between the two men. At first, Nixon is annoyed by what he sees as a PR stunt, but over the course of the meeting finds that they have much in common: they are both self-made men who came from humble beginnings and worked hard for their success, and they both feel unappreciated by an American culture they no longer understand. They part on good terms, and pose together for an iconic photograph.
- Kevin Spacey as President Richard Nixon
- Michael Shannon as Elvis Presley
- Alex Pettyfer as Jerry Schilling
- Colin Hanks as Egil Krogh
- Evan Peters as Dwight Chapin
- Tate Donovan as White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman
- Hanala Sagal as Dwight Chapin's Secretary
- Johnny Knoxville as Sonny West
- Sky Ferreira as Charlotte
- Tracy Letts as John Finlator
- Ashley Benson as Margaret
- Poppy Delevingne as a stewardess
- Dylan Penn as a hotel worker
- Joey Sagal as Joe King
- Geraldine Singer as Rose Mary Woods
On November 5, 2014, it was announced that Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon signed on to portray Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley respectively in a feature film entitled Elvis & Nixon, written by Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal and Cary Elwes, about the pair's famous meeting at the White House in 1970. On November 11, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions brought the film to the market. On January 16, 2015, five actors joined the cast, including Colin Hanks, Johnny Knoxville, Alex Pettyfer, Tracy Letts and Sky Ferreira. Pettyfer plays Elvis' best friend Jerry Schilling, who goes to Washington, D.C. with him, Hanks plays Egil Krogh, lawyer and official of President's administration, Knoxville plays Elvis' head of security, while Ferreira plays Jerry's love interest. On February 4, four more cast members included Ashley Benson, Tate Donovan, Poppy Delevingne, and Dylan Penn. Benson plays an American Airlines worker, Donovan plays White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman, Delevingne plays a stewardess flying with Elvis to D.C., while Penn would be playing a hotel worker.
Principal photography began on January 12, 2015, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Filming also took place in Shreveport, Louisiana and Los Angeles, California. Co-writer Joey Sagal who has previously played Elvis Presley as an actor on stage, and in films and television, had in his childhood met Presley when his father — Boris Sagal — directed Presley in 1965's Girl Happy.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a rating of 77% based on 141 reviews and an average rating of 6.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Elvis & Nixon may not do much to expand on its absurdly iconic photographic source material, but it's rarely less than engaging thanks to its talented starring duo." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 59 out of 100 based on 37 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Radio Times gave the film an average review but praised the acting: "Michael Shannon is an enjoyably left-field choice for a jaded, increasingly alienated Presley; he’s grown weary of the persona he has to tiresomely maintain, seems to be losing the plot, and yet still creates a stir wherever he treads. Assigned less screen time, Nixon is a more enigmatic figure: gruff, stubborn and played to perfection by Kevin Spacey. ... Shannon and Spacey are a hoot in an entertaining if unenlightening effort". Flickering Myth enjoyed the film: “Elvis & Nixon is an entirely pleasant 86 minutes in the cinema – entertaining, humorous and well-made, albeit somewhat forgettable. Also it’s further proof that a female director can harness the energy of two top male thespians portraying macho men.” What's Worth Seeing also liked the film, writing: "With Michael Shannon as the gun-toting rock-and-roll star and Kevin Spacey as the President, more famous for his downfall a couple of years ahead, director Liza Johnson delivers an unexpectedly sharp, funny and zippy real-life tale of absurdity which would have been surreal beyond measure for everyone involved – except for The King himself." Nigel M. Smith of The Guardian called the film “a breezy comedy nimbly directed” and wrote: "Given that the film is about two of the most recognizable figures of the 20th century, clearly casting is key to its success. Luckily, Johnson hit the jackpot by getting Michael Shannon on board as the King and Kevin Spacey to play the corrupt president."
- Elvis Meets Nixon (1997 film)