‘Agent Elvis’: The King of Rock ’N’ Roll Fights Supervillains in Netflix’s New Animated Series

With a Tarantino-like swagger and twisted sense of humor that Elvis was apparently known for, Netflix’s adults-only animated series Agent Elvis lands on the streaming titan’s playlist starting today (Friday, March 17).

Co-created by Elvis’ ex-wife Priscilla Presley and John Eddie in collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation, the 10-episode show finds the The King swapping out his pristine sequined jumpsuit for a roaring jetpack after hooking up with a secret spy ring to thwart supervillains’ diabolical plans from ruining the world while still belting out soulful hip-gyrating tunes.

In a flashy, mature-themed series that features a drug-addled masturbating NASA chimp named Scatter, Charles Manson and his hippy zombie gang, Howard Hughes severing bad guy torsos with his radioactive urine stream and a martial arts battle with Robert Goulet inside a volcano, it’s immediately apparent that nothing out there is exactly hallowed ground.

Agent Elvis [c/o Netflix © 2023]
Fred Armisen voices as Charles Manson in Agent Elvis [c/o Netflix © 2023]

Back in the late 1960s the world was enamored of the “Three Bs”: Batman, Bond and The Beatles. But eclipsing all of those massive pop culture icons was the resurgence of that sweet-smiling, velvet-voiced musician and Hollywood movie star from Tupelo named Elvis Presley.

Netflix’s Agent Elvis was inspired by Elvis’ historic 1970 meet-and-greet with President Richard Nixon, where the superstar singer offered his services to the administration in their war on drugs and anti-American counter-culture figures as a possible agent-at-large.

Agent Elvis showcases the impressive vocal talents of Matthew McConaughey as Elvis, Kaitlin Olson as spy operative CeCe Ryder, Johnny Knoxville as good ol’ boy sidekick Bobby Ray, Don Cheadle as Commander, Tom Kenny as Scatter, Niecy Nash as Elvis’ loyal associate Bertie and Priscilla Presley portraying herself. Renowned designer John Varvatos custom designed Elvis’ rockin’ wardrobe seen throughout this premiere season, and Oscar nominated animator Robert Valley (Pear Cider & Cigarettes; Love, Death & Robots – Zima Blue Ice) helped create the King’s 2D look.

So how did a gore-filled animated series starring a cartoon Elvis in an alternate timeline fighting crime for a covert government agency come about and what can fans expect when it erupts on Netflix this week?

We chatted with co-creator John Eddie and showrunner/head writer Mike Arnold to discover the genesis and creation of this cool over-the-top project and its many amusing misadventures.

Agent Elvis
Don Cheadle as The Commander, Matthew McConaughey as Elvis and Kaitlin Olson as Cece in Agent Elvis. [c/o Netflix © 2023]

Animation Magazine: How did you both become attached to this retro project and why was it something you wanted to invest your creativity and imagination into?

John Eddie: I pitched the idea to Priscilla Presley back in 2012 — the germ of the idea, basically inspired by the famous photo of Elvis with Richard Nixon where he was trying to be a DEA agent. For being animated, it was just because I’m a big Elvis fan and every time there’d been a live-action Elvis, and this was way before the Baz Luhrmann movie, you could never get past the fact that it wasn’t Elvis Presley doing it. So, we thought animation was the best way to visualize Agent Elvis.

Elvis really did have a monkey named Scatter that he had gotten from a children’s TV show, and that monkey was known for lifting up women’s dresses and they’d bring him out at parties and he’d cause much trouble. So we took that and blew it up as much as we could.

Mike Arnold: When I met John, what was exciting for me was the notion of such an icon like Elvis and then pair it with a coked-up monkey with a shotgun and going out and having fun with that felt like something new that we haven’t seen yet. It was exciting just to get on board and join the team and really bring that to life.

Agent Elvis [c/o Netflix © 2023]
Agent Elvis [c/o Netflix © 2023]

What were some of your design choices for the animation style that seem to have origins in superhero comic books and the aesthetics of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s?

Arnold: We always set out to make a cool show, and there’s something about that era that really brought a particular vibe. If we could deliberately recreate that look it would create not only a fresh look for the show but also a very cool look for the show. My kids are teenagers and they’re obsessed with the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. We just thought that vibe would be a lot of fun and wanted to be as loyal to it as we could.

Eddie: When we first sold the show to Sony Animation, one of the first character designs they showed us was from artist Robert Valley, and we never looked anywhere else. It was capturing exactly what we had in our minds. In that era’s cinema they were doing a lot of that split panel thing that comes from comic books, so that’s definitely part of it. We’ve always said that we wanted the gravitas of a Christian Bale Batman in an Adam West Batman world. We wanted the fun craziness of it but Elvis himself had to always be cool, always be a badass.

Agent Elvis [c/o Netflix © 2023]
Agent Elvis [c/o Netflix © 2023]

Your vocal cast, especially Matthew McConaughey doing Elvis, is exceptional. What was it like working with the actors and how did McConaughey sign on to Agent Elvis?

Arnold: I can’t speak to why Matthew ultimately said yes to this, but I know that the idea of being the first person to voice the animated character of Elvis, somebody so singular, was very appealing to him. It was a challenge. We worked with him and the rest of the cast, watching them bring a particular flavor to each of their characters. Matthew spent a lot of time trying to perfect the voice that he felt was right for Elvis, in what he would call “the music of Elvis’ voice.”

With Kaitlin [Olson] and Don [Cheadle], along with Matthew, they brought their effortless comedy to every episode that we did. They are truly experts in the comedy field and it was a real joy to watch them work.

Eddie: The appeal of Elvis and Matthew McConaughey obviously gave our show more weight than just “this is fighting bad guys.” Maybe there’s something here that’s deeper. We have Kieran Culkin in the cast and when he came to do his record he goes, “Dude, Elvis fighting Robert Goulet in a volcano? Why wouldn’t I do this show?” People read the scripts and it was so over-the-top and edgy that they were attracted to this world of Elvis and Matthew attached to it.

Agent Elvis [c/o Netflix © 2023]
Agent Elvis [c/o Netflix © 2023]

What was it like collaborating with Priscilla Presley for the distinct look of Elvis and did Netflix have any guidelines or limitations as to what material could be included?

Eddie: Well, Priscilla is an actress and was in The Naked Gun movies. She was very giving to the writers and to the idea of being able to push the boundaries. We’re doing an alternate reality Elvis and I think it’s one of the brave, cool things about her is that she let us push the edge, but she definitely had approval over everything. She says Elvis was a big fan of Monty Python and Mel Brooks and that he would have liked the show. We feel good that we’re not doing something that would have pissed Elvis off.

Agent Elvis [c/o Netflix © 2023]
Agent Elvis [c/o Netflix © 2023]

What were the most rewarding or enjoyable aspects of making Agent Elvis?

Arnold: For me, it was watching that extremely talented cast and what people like that can bring to characters and scripts that we already loved, and how they could elevate simply everything we had done. It’s impossible to even recount the number of great people we have working on the show. At every turn they made it even more special.

Eddie: There’s been so many highs on this trip, from the first time we pitched the original idea, to going to Sony, then going to Netflix and Mike coming on board, then the cast coming together. I always go back to this one thing when we sold the show to Sony and had a celebration dinner. Jerry Schilling, who was Elvis’ best friend, stood up at the table and he said, “Out of all the projects we’ve ever done, I think Elvis would have liked this one the best.”

And that always kept me going. We were doing something crazy. We’re being edgy. But we’re keeping the spirit of the rock ’n’ roll of Elvis and that’s been a high point for me.


Agent Elvis is now storming screens exclusively on Netflix. 




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