Evan Peters excels on the big screen in juvenile roles – clumsy skateboarder SpongeBob in “Sleepover,” kooky friend Todd in “Kick-Ass,” going-nowhere store manager Alex in “Adult World,” stoner dude Clay in “The Lazarus Effect,” sweet high-schooler Charles in “Safelight,” and playful teen Quicksilver in “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” Friday’s release of “Elvis & Nixon” reveals Peters in a very adult role, as Dwight Chapin, President Nixon’s Deputy Secretary.
Most requested photo from the U.S. National Archives? The 1970 photo of “King of Rock and Roll” Elvis Presley shaking President Richard M. Nixon’s hand (according to a Tweet from the National Archives). A bizarre fact in and of itself, but even more peculiar, the story behind the meeting. So odd, director Liza Johnson decided to make a movie about it. (Actually the second movie about these events, the first being 1997’s “Elvis Meets Nixon.”)
One day, Elvis shows up at the White House, out of the blue, expressing admiration for and requesting to meet with the President. Johnson’s comedic film adaptation of this real event stars Kevin Spacey (“American Beauty,” “The Usual Suspects”) as Nixon and Michael Shannon (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Man of Steel”) as Presley. Appointments secretary Chapin (Peters) suggests Nixon take the meeting with the King to bolster Nixon’s approval with the younger generation. Presley, whose later death was attributed to drugs, expresses to Nixon scathing criticism towards drug users and criticizes The Beatles for being anti-American. Elvis also suggests he work as a special agent for Nixon, to bust the commies. According to Peters in Interview, “probably 90 percent” of the movie is true.
“Elvis & Nixon” premiered last night at the Tribeca Film Festival. Peter Debruge of Variety says, “Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey hilariously reenact one of history’s most surreal blind dates.”
The real Chapin, in his early 20s, first worked for Nixon in his unsuccessful campaign for Governor of California. Afterwards, H.R. Haldeman, later Nixon’s Chief of Staff, got Chapin an advertising job. Chapin became an aide to Nixon during his 1967/8 Presidential campaign and followed him into the White House, first as Special Assistant, and then Deputy Assistant.
Next big release for rising star Evan — Memorial Day weekend’s “X-Men: Apocalypse,” where his Quicksilver garners much more screen time than in “Days of Future Past.” In anticipation, Empire Magazine features Quicksilver and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) on one of nine “X-Men” covers, and Peters is scheduled for $75 a pop photo-ops at Sacramento’s Wizard World convention June 18 and 19. Check this column next month for more on Peters in “X-Men.”
Will Peters remain the only male actor to star in all seasons of “American Horror Story” by returning in October? No confirmation yet one way or the other. And just where does his rocky relationship with Emma Roberts stand? Also unknown, although Just Jared spotted them out for coffee on March 18. From Peters Instagram, presumably drinking iced coffees … in a pear tree.