"Rainmaker" star Woody Harrelson was blown away to learn that his idol, Elvis Presley, performed a screen test for the role of Starbuck in the 1956 movie "The Rainmaker."
Even though Presley lost the role to Burt Lancaster, Harrelson couldn't contain his excitement upon hearing that the King had even tried out for it.
"Omigod. That is so cool," Harrelson said to me at the Millennium Hotel, moments after his opening-night performance as Starbuck in Broadway's latest version of the N. Richard Nash play.
Flanked by his wife, Laura Louie, and other cast members and well-wishers like Ethan Hawke, Laura Linney, Mariette Hartley and Billy Crudup, Harrelson admitted that Elvis had indeed played an important part in his life.
"The first thing I ever did in high school was Elvis," said Harrelson. "I got up on a table and sang a few Elvis songs. A teacher from the theater department said to me, 'You know, you can really do this.' It gave me the confidence to go on." Elvis, by the way, didn't fare so poorly after losing out on the role. His manager, Col. Tom Parker, put him into "Jailhouse Rock" in 1957, and the rest, as they really could say, is history.
"I guess you could say it worked out okay for him," said Harrelson.