One of the most indelible, surreal photographs in American history – President Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley shaking hands in the White House in December 1970 – is the springboard of an upcoming film that puts a humorous, semi-fictional look at the infamous meeting. In Elvis & Nixon, Kevin Spacey plays the titular president while Michael Shannon portrays the King, who as legend has it hand-delivered a letter to the White House requesting that Nixon appoint Presley to the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
As the trailer shows, Nixon was initially reluctant to meet with Presley – it interfered with the president’s naptime, the film posits – but he ultimately agreed to meet with the rock legend in an effort to boost his own popularity among youths. “He’s one of the most famous men on the planet. He loves guns and hates the Beatles,” Nixon advisor Egil Krogh, played by Colin Hanks, tells the president to convince him to meet with Presley. “The Beatles, well I don’t like them,” Spacey’s Nixon growls back.
Presley’s meeting with Nixon was kept secret for nearly two years before The Washington Post uncovered the encounter; the photo of Presley and Nixon shaking hands remains the most requested photograph at the National Archives. Elvis & Nixon opens April 15th.