Elvis father, Pastor David Sandow (William Hurt), turns his back on his first born son after Elvis tracks him down and introduces himself. Pastor Sandow has his own family now - and a devoted congregation - and doesn't want Elvis inserting himself into the picture. Urged to leave the city, instead Elvis gets a job and begins an incestuous relationship with Davids 16-year-old daughter, Malerie (Pell James).
A provocative, disturbing film, The King is never what youd expect.
Tackling Hot Button Topics: Its important because films, fiction, can encompass a whole global vision on a particular subject with any story, whatever it is. You can play the story in whatever country with whatever language in whatever style you want to tell the story in. At the same time, the issues that are dealt with are incredibly human and theyre about the human condition and society and politics and everything put together, you know, so its important.
I think those are the stories that matter. Those are the stories that make us learn from them and that give us a little chance to do an exercise in a huge room filled with strangers watching the movie, [while] we try to be human.
Gael Garcia Bernals Attraction to The King: Well it was so many things amongst a bunch of things, that it would take a long time to pinpoint any in particular. It has all the elements of a classical tragedy, from incest to the fable of the bastard son who comes back from the sea to regain his lost empire to the makeup of classical tragedy on the backdrop of a modern day context, which is Corpus Christi, Texas.
Bernals Approach to the Character: First of all, I dont throw a moral judgment on the characters Im going to play. There isnt, Am I going to like him or not? I dont think about the affect of the character on others. I never do. I just try to empathize with the characters emotional journey and therefore thats the pathway for me to understand the character and play the role. But just empathizing with the emotional journey, which is something that you can do with even the most gruesome or extreme character. You can always theres someway to find it. Theres a lot of ways to empathize with the emotional journey. Of course Ive never even been close to what this character has lived, but that is the approach for you to be able to live the character and to not ridicule it or look at it from a judgmental distance.
Bernal also created a detailed backstory in order to figure out where this characters coming from. I did a story which isnt kind of seen in the film, its not talked about in the film. But there was a story behind him and a little mythology around him as well. That helps me, in a sense, to complete the character and find the way he would react to things.
Texas as the Setting for The King: Bernal said filming in Texas helped him get into the character of Elvis. Very much so because Texas is a country in its own. Its made up of half Mexico/half United States but completed mixed. I dont mean to draw a generalization but it is a place, a territory, thats really made up of all these encounters, you know?
It has its own identity. It has its own directness, as well. Its own lack of hypocrisy because its a very honest place and I found it really integrated as well. It was surprising compared to what people might think from outside. Its actually a very, very truly interesting place to be. I was very happy to be there and to be soaking up this place where all the races and all the languages are integrated. Its really integrated. Theres not that ghetto feeling that exists in New York and Los Angeles. Its very, very much integrated and you expect to go to any bar or any café or whatever and there will be people from all over speaking their language and being Texans. You dont have to change your identity to be from the place you are.