The Elvis Choreographer Who Wound Up in Thailand

One of the strangest aspects of the Danish Sundance drama Teddy Bear, which had its local premiere last night at the Los Angeles Film Festival, is the casting of David Winters as the owner of a bar in Thailand. The establishment figures prominently in the oddball trip taken by the film’s namesake bodybuilder Dennis (Kim Kold).

Though the 73-year-old Winters today looks nothing like the part, he was once a major Broadway musical hoofer and Hollywood film choreographer, dancing his way through West Side Story (play & film) and helping Elvis Presley map out five movies. Teddy Bear director Mads Matthiesen told FishbowlLA over cocktails that he was introduced to Winters by a production services company that he used for the Thailand shoot. They suggested Winters as an actor and, sure enough, he turned out to be the perfect fit for the role of open-shirted matchmaker Scott (pictured, above).

Winters at one point in his career was a prolific TV director. As a feature filmmaker, he won a Bangkok Film Festival Audience Award for the 2003 action comedy Welcome 2 Ibiza.

Incidentally, Matthiesen also revealed to us that his debuting bodybuilder star, who currently lives in Spain, is in final talks for a role in a major ongoing Hollywood franchise. It’s not yet a done deal, so he asked that we refrain from mentioning the full details. But if all goes well, fans will soon be seeing a lot more of this gentle, tattooed giant.

[Teddy Bear encore screening: Saturday June 23 / 9:30 p.m.]