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Elvis Costello on movies, music and why you won’t ever see him slapping his knee in concert

Elvis Costello knows his way around Hollywood Boulevard. The versatile singer-songwriter played a couple of dates over the years at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s fabled Cinegrill nightclub, the place where Marilyn Monroe met Arthur Miller, and Michelle Pfeiffer slithered across a piano in “The Fabulous Baker Boys.” And nearly three decades ago, he caught “The Godfather Part III” at the Chinese Theatre, just to see how Francis Ford Coppola used his song, “Miracle Man.”

Costello returned to the Roosevelt last month to perform a brief set following the AFI Fest premiere of “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool,” the story of the romance between a young British actor and Hollywood legend Gloria Grahame in the last years of her life.

Elvis Costello is at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles on Nov. 13, 2017. Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Inside the hotel’s intimate lounge, Costello sang, “You Shouldn’t Look at Me That Way,” a lushly orchestrated, bittersweet love song he wrote for the movie, paying particular attention to the film’s star, Annette Bening, in the audience. He also performed his old standby “Alison” and a song he has written for a musical adaptation of Budd Schulberg’s “A Face in the Crowd,” a project that will be going into its third workshop soon.

The following day, Costello, 63, wearing a sharp suit accented with a matching purple paisley tie and pocket square, sat down to talk about movies and music and how the two have intersected during his long career.


My introduction to Gloria Grahame came when I saw “Oklahoma!” when I was 7 or 8 …

I never saw “Oklahoma!” Who wrote that?

Really? Rodgers & Hammerstein.

I was always more of a Rodgers & Hart. I know the songs. “Surrey With the Fringe on Top” I know from Sonny Rollins.

I’m not that big on gingham. Also, I don’t like this. [Costello enthusiastically slaps his knee.] That move…

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