White Stripes leader Jack White is going Hollywood again, this time playing the King of rock 'n' roll in a new music bio flick spoof by the maker of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and this summer's hit Knocked Up. White portrays Elvis Presley in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, which is being described as a satirical send-up of recent music biography films such as Ray and the Johnny Cash vehicle, Walk the Line. Oscar-nominated actor John C. Reilly plays the title character, a fictional and troubled Buddy Holly-era Southern rocker whose Forrest Gump-like odyssey takes him from the 50's through the psychedelic '60s and well beyond.
White's role is said to be short but pivotal to the plot, which has the fictional Cox getting into a musical showdown with the aspiring King. The Detroit-by-way-of-Nashville rocker has said that playing Presley wasn't all that trying, claiming that anyone is capable of doing a short Elvis impersonation. White isn't the only one re-creating a real-life legendary rocker in the film. Comic superstar Jack Black plays Beatles-era Paul McCartney (you just knew that sooner or later, Black & White would appear in a film together; interestingly enough, I spotted Black in the audience at a White Stripes show at the El Rey Theater in L.A. several years ago), with actor Paul Rudd (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) as John Lennon. Modern rockers like Eddie Vedder will also make cameos as themselves throughout the film.
White isn't the movie's only Detroit connection, by the way. Director-writer Jake Kasdan is a Detroit native, and he and co-writer Judd Apatow first reached cult fame when they worked together (along with Paul Feig, another Detroit boy) on Freaks & Geeks, one of the greatest TV shows of the last decade, which was set in a fictional Detroit suburban high school. Former Detroiter Marshall Crenshaw wrote the title track for the film, and my pal Van Dyke Parks supplied the music for the psychedelic portion of the flick. A recent unveiling of a trailer for the movie reportedly had an audience in stitches; one scene portrays Reilly as Cox in a fight with his wife (portrayed by Jenna Fischer) who's made up to deliberately look like Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line. "You can take my kids," he screams at her, "but you can't take my monkey!" The camera then cuts to a monkey sitting in a chair. The film is currently in post-production and will hit the cineplexes on either Dec. 14th of this year or January 17, 2008.