From Elvis To Snake: Kurt Plays 'Em All (The Province/Aug 08/1996/CA) By Damian Inwood



Kurt Russell admits he has some unfinished business he may have to take care of with the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

When Russell was 12 he appeared in It Happened at the World's Fair with Elvis Presley, who was 27 at the time.

"He was mobbed by girls in his cars," chuckles Russell. "I got to see the whole Elvis deal."

Then, when Russell was 27, he played Elvis in a TV movie directed by John Carpenter.

"I remember a lot about him and used a lot of that memory, how he walked, how he sounded, how he carried himself," adds, Russell.

"Ultimately, I remember him as a very charismatic, sweet guy."

There were two great Elvis periods, says Russell, one of which he tackled in the TV biopic up to 1969.

"Then there's 1969 to 1977, where his physical constitution began to wreck havoc and play out it's destiny on his body," he says.

"It continues to be an interesting story. John and I have talked about it.

"Elvis was 42 when he died and I'm 45. I would be interested to play him from age 35 to 42. I think I do understand about the core of who he really was."

If that sounds like a Hollywood pipe dream, don't count out Russell appearing as Elvis sometime down the road.

After all, he's just resurrected a character he played in a John Carpenter movie 15 years ago.

Russell brings back Snake Plissken in Escape From New York, which opens Friday.

Plissken is the long-haired, leather-clad, eye-patch-wearing vigilante who first appeared in Carpenter's 1981 cult classic Escape From New York.

Russell says he had to think twice about doing the sequel, 15 years down the road.

"But there were a lot of reasons to do it," he says. "We really liked the first movie."

Russell shares the writing credits with Carpenter and Debra Hill, re-creating the team behind the first Escape film.

He also co-produced the movie with Hill.

He says they kicked ideas around for years.

Two years ago, Russell was coming back from a movie junket where he'd been asked if he would ever play Plissken again.

"I wanted to work with John again," says Russell, who's now appeared in five Carpenter films, including The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China. "And L.A. had been through all sorts of things, the earthquakes, flash floods, fires, riots."

Russell likes Plissken's character as a "socially unredeemable fellow who's also a bit of a mystery."

"People have suggested it's an alter ego John and I share but it's really an invention we share," he says. "We like to imagine what Snake would do in certain circumstances."

While he's not a big fan of sequels, Russell admits he and Carpenter have talked about a third in the Escape From series.

This time it would be Escape From Earth.

And, let's face it, Russell can do pretty much what he likes these days after his career was boosted by the sleeper hit Stargate in 1994.

Industry sources claim he was paid
$10.5 million US for this year's Executive Decision, $15 million for Escape From L.A. and the same for the Dino de Laurentis thriller Breakdown, which he's just finished.

But Russell, who appeared in the Oscar-winning 1983 film, Silkwood, and Ron Howard's 1991 firefighter flick, Backdraft, says he doesn't worry about the ups and downs in his career.

"I have plugged along and not really concerned myself with success, failure or complete shutdown," he says.

"I'm just an actor for hire. If a movie is successful, that's great, and if not, it's not the end of the world. It's entertainment - I think of it on that level."