Talk Show Host
The title of the twenty-episode talk show Costello hosted gives the most credence to the fact that it's all about the glasses, but Spectacle: Elvis Costello with... also had an experimental format unique to Costello's talents. He interviewed musical legends like Elton John, Lou Reed, and Bruce Springsteen and then interpreted his guest's songs on his own before inviting them to play along with him. Not only was it a musical treat, but many celebrities seemed more willing to open up with a fellow musical legend than a run of the mill interviewer.
Though many of his roles over the years have consisted of Elvis Costello acting the part he was born to play, himself, such as in Talladega Nights, Austin Powers 2, and 30 Rock, there have been times Costello has been asked to stretch. He played a butler in Alex Cox's weird opus Straight to Hell, he was the barman in the Spice Girls movie Spice World, and had a legitimate supporting role in the BBC TV series Scully.
Musical Collaborator to the Stars
There seems to be no musical genre, nor any artist that Costello is unwilling to jam along with. He of course has provided instrumentation and vocals for his wife, Jazz singer Diana Krall's albums. He co-wrote a dozen songs with Paul McCartney including "Veronica," sang on albums with the Eurythmics and Til Tuesday, recorded entire albums with artists as varied as the legendary pop composer Burt Bacharach to the embodiment of New Orleans in Allen Toussaint to, most recently, hip-hop dynamos, the Roots.