Did Tom Hanks’s brush with COVID on the set of Elvis give him a new perspective on life, spurring him to go for broke in everything he did? Or is he simply a two-time Oscar winner with nothing left to prove? Those are the only logical explanations I can think of for Hanks’s villainous Dutch accent as Colonel Tom Parker in Baz Luhrmann’s rock biopic, though perhaps I’m erring by trying to introduce logic into Elvis, a film where it simply doesn’t belong.
How to describe Hanks’s accent here? To say it’s over-the-top is an insult to circuses everywhere. It’s so over-the-top it circled around the moon and came back to Earth again. It’s so over the top that it just deleted Grindr. Here’s a clip, which I swear is slightly toned down from the way it appears in the finished film:
This is not an accent that says, “I am an A-lister reinventing myself as a character actor.” This is a voice that announces itself: Hello, world, get a load of me! As with much about Luhrmann’s Elvis, realism is not the goal. In case you were curious about what the real Parker sounded like, listen to this 1956 interview in which the Colonel sounds more or less like an ordinary Southerner of the time, his birthplace of Breda only betrayed by the way his T’s slide into D’s. But where’s the fun in that?
And so we get Hanks’s dastardly Dutchman, a creature who comes from no country you or I would recognize. As I put it back in May, “Imagine Hermann Göring playing the Penguin, and you’ll have a sense of Hanks’s register here.” But that was just a start. Here are 13 more things Hanks’s Elvis accent sounds like:
• Mike Myers’s Goldmember on a take when Jay Roach told him, “Just let loose on this one.”
• KLM’s dubbed version of the Coen brothers’ Ladykillers.
• Rumpelstiltskin trying to impress his in-laws.
• A man trying to speak through a mouthful of raw herring.
• Tweety Bird if he had aged into a bitter 60-year-old man.
• Louis van Gaal plotting a European League matchup against FC Midtjylland.
• A squeaky bicycle wheel speeding down Jodenbreestraat.
• Santa Claus’s ne’er-do-well European cousin, Ruud Claus.
• A cobwebbed corner of the Rijksmuseum.
• Alexei Sayle’s South African Dracula.
• A jangling sack of gold florins held by a robber in a children’s cartoon.
• Emperor Palpatine after a spa day.
• An audition to appear in Knives Out 3.