Austin Butler’s Voice and His Performance in Elvis: A Deep Dive

Austin Butler’s Voice and His Performance in Elvis: A Deep Dive
Austin Butler’s Voice and His Performance in Elvis: A Deep Dive

Playing Elvis Presley can be considered Austin Butler’s most incredible and iconic role. It is the one performance for which he has received the most awards including the Golden Globe and BAFTA for Best Actor. Butler put in a lot of work for his performance and one of the ways he was able to authentically portray Presley was by replicating the way he spoke. 

Butler’s voice work for the role is something that critics praised extensively. It was not enough for him to learn the songs and go through extensive makeup, he also took the extra step of becoming Elvis in voice and speech. With many portrayals of Elvis, Butler was tasked with putting his best foot as Elvis forward. To sound like the King of Rock and Roll without coming across as one of his many impersonators.

Austin Butler Worked on The Elvis Voice With Professionals

Austin Butler’s Voice and His Performance in Elvis: A Deep Dive

Butler had worked on mastering the Elvis voice by doing a range of activities. The first step in his process was to hone in on how Presley had said certain words, then repeat those words until he sounded exactly like how Elvis had said that word. He did this for a lot of words until he had a large vocabulary of words all said in Elvis’s style and then replicated to create sentences. 

Then he took it further by working with a Dialect coach. This was a key component to accurately getting the voice of Elvis. He would repeat certain phrases to the coach who would give feedback on how he had said that line. Honing and cultivating the voice of the character he was going to play. Butler’s work with professionals was not limited to just the speaking voice of Elvis Presley. Butler who sang all the early Presley songs in the film needed to collaborate with voice coaches. The singing in the film was something that Butler was really keen on playing and getting right, so it was pertinent that he did the work to be as authentic as possible.

Butler Remained Elvis When the Cameras Stopped Rolling

Austin Butler as Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley was known for the strength of his music, his electrifying performance and his songs have lived longer than he was alive. Playing the lead role in a biopic of one of the most popular people to have existed requires a degree of immersion which would cause aspects of the character being played to leak into the real life of the actor. This has been the case with Butler playing Elvis. When speaking to Butler about the role, Maureen Lee Lenker, had this to say: Interviewing Butler feels like an exercise in time travel…Butler still exudes the soul of Elvis — hints of Presley’s twang sneak into his speech” 

Other critics mostly praised Butler’s acting and Baz Luhrmann’s directing and storytelling. On the vocal authenticity of Butler’s performance, Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times stated Butler is a decent physical match for Elvis and a better one vocally”. This was further proof that prior to his performance the iconic musician was a league above others. 

Austin Butler’s Accent Had a Strong Impact on the Film’s Success

Austin Butler's voice

The first indication of Elvis’s success was the 12-minute standing ovation the film received after it had been shown at the Cannes Festival. This was the longest applause any showing had received that year. The film would go on to be a hit not just with audiences but with critics and the daughter of the late icon, Lisa Marie Presley praised the film for being the first one to accurately represent her father. 

A lot of the success the film has enjoyed rides on Austin Butler’s performance, which includes his vocal work in speech and singing. Filming took place in Australia and due to Covid restrictions had to be paused, but not for Butler who poured himself fully into the role. His degree of dedication to the role paid out and led to critical acclaim for him and the film. 

Butler’s voice has remained the same even after production for the film ended more than a year ago. One of his singing coaches spoke about why the accent stayed. She made reference to the degree of work and time Butler invested in the character. 

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