Can’t escape the King! Austin Butler went through in-depth training while preparing for his role in the 2022 Elvis Presley biopic — and his voice hasn’t been the same since.
In July 2019, it was announced that the Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood actor would be playing the legendary late musician in the Baz Luhrmann film. When shooting for the project began in early 2020, Luhrmann gushed about his leading man and his take on Elvis Presley.
“I always avoid getting in and heralding the work we’re doing before we do it, but during the testing process, his commitment, his transformative abilities from the young Elvis to beyond, he had been playing so very well,” the Moulin Rouge director said to Deadline in March 2020. “He was terrific. There was such great energy and excitement in the cast and company, about the show we were about to shoot.”
Ahead of filming, Butler studied the “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” crooner’s mannerisms and his voice. In addition to playing the character, he also sang on the soundtrack. In June 2022, The Shannara Chronicles star opened up about all the training he did to master Elvis’ distinct sound.
“I sang every day [while preparing and filming] and would do my singing exercises first thing in the morning,” he said to Entertainment Weekly in June 2022. “It is really like a muscle. Through filming, I started noticing notes that I couldn’t hit in the beginning, suddenly, now I could hit those notes. I was widening my range. But it’s not just singing — you’re having to find vocal mannerisms. That could be a little tricky.”
After the movie premiered, Butler’s “Elvis voice” became a hot topic of discussion as he didn’t drop the act. When the Switched At Birth alum hosted Saturday Night Live in December 2022, he poked fun at himself and his “new voice.”
“There’s people out there that say ever since I played Elvis, my voice has changed,” Butler quipped in his monologue. “That it got deeper, more Elvis-y, but that’s not true. I’ve always sounded like this!”
That next month, Butler’s voice coach, Irene Bartlett, defended her client and praised all of the hard work he put into his portrayal — which ultimately earned him his first-ever Golden Globe award.
“What you saw in that  Golden Globes speech, that’s him. It’s genuine, it’s not put on,” she shared, referring to Butler’s acceptance speech at the awards show. “I feel sorry people are saying that, you know, it’s still acting [but] he’s actually taken [the voice] on board. I don’t know how long that will last, or if it’s going to be there forever.”
In February 2023, the former Disney star revealed he was attempting to shed his Elvis dialect while appearing on BBC One’s The Graham Norton Show.
“I am getting rid of the accent, but I have probably damaged my vocal cords with all that singing,” he confessed. “One song took 40 takes.”
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