It isn't easy being king, and the new CBS miniseries, "Elvis," proves just that when it takes a look at the early years of ELVIS PRESLEY's life. Born into poverty in Tupelo, MS, it was a struggle for the young musician to achieve his meteoric rise to fame, especially considering the revolution he created in popular music with his swivel hips and the sneer on his lips.
ET was first on the set at Graceland to capture the day that Elvis presented his parents with their new home. JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS stars as The King, CAMRYN MANHEIM plays his mother GLADYS and ROBERT PATRICK as his father VERNON. Also in the cast are ROSE McGOWAN as ANN-MARGRET and ANTONIA BERNATH plays PRISCILLA BEAULIEU.
"There is a challenge in playing one of America's biggest icons," admits Jonathan, who is best known in the U.S. as the soccer coach in 'Bend it Like Beckham.' "Where does an Irish person get the temerity to play Elvis Presley? When I told the people at home that I was going to play Elvis, first I got a giggle as if I was telling them a joke. Then when they found out I was serious, there was a look of horror."
But the producers were sure they wanted Jonathan. In November, 2004, ET had reported on the extensive search to find someone to play the role. After auditioning more than 500 people, Jonathan's schedule changed, which allowed him to do the movie, so he was snapped up.
"They offered me the part and then they wanted to see if I could really look like Elvis Presley," he recalls. "So at 7 o'clock on a Monday morning, I found myself at Shepperton Studios outside of London. I had no script, so I had no lines. They blackened my hair a little bit and put on some sideburns."
Thanks to the cooperation of the Elvis Presley Estate, the production has unprecedented access to film at Graceland, where the King lived out the last years of his life.
"I have heard about Graceland for years and years and years," admits Camryn, who wasn't a fan of Elvis' before signing on to do this role. "I thought it was strange that people would make this pilgrimage."
But now that she is familiar with all things Elvis, she has had a change of heart. "I have fallen deeply and madly in love with Elvis Presley, what he was, what he stood for and what he brought to our great country," she admits. And she has also done a bit of shopping at Graceland's souvenir shop. "I got an Elvis T-shirt for my son, an Elvis bag and an Elvis clock. I am all Elvised out."
For more on CBS's "Elvis," airing this coming May, tune in to tonight's ET.