Austin Butler ‘Can’t Help’ Slipping Into Elvis’ Voice—His Impersonation Felt Like a ‘Responsibility’

Austin Butler
Photo: AP Images

A perfect part of the role. Austin Butler’s commitment to his Elvis Presley role is no joke. The Elvis star took to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on June 16, 2022, to show off his impersonation skills of The King of Rock & Roll.

When Fallon was raving about Butler’s performance in the new Baz Luhrman film, Butler talked about how there was a duty that came with the role. “It’s terrifying. It’s that thing where it’s the biggest responsibility I’ve ever felt. You feel such a  responsibility to him, to his family and to all the people around the world who love him so much.” The late-night talk show host asked how Butler did Elvis’ accents. Butler then proceeded to show off how he did the voices for three different Elvis eras. “He’s nervous — his voice, at that time, you speak a lot faster when you’re nervous,” he said while doing Elvis’ voice when he was 19 on Louisiana Hayride in 1954. Before doing Elvis’ 1972 voice, the actor said, “At this point, his voice goes more forward than to his face.”

Butler explained that he did extensive research through different archives of Elvis’ performances. Filming of the biopic ended in March 2021 according to GQ, however, Butler seems to still slip into Elvis’ voice at times. “At this point, I keep asking people, ‘Is this my voice?’ because this feels like my real … it’s one of those things where certain things trigger it and other times as well it’s, I don’t know,” Butler told ET on June 14, 2022. “When you live with something for two years, and you do nothing else, I think that you can’t help it. It becomes a fiber of your being.”

Butler also pointed out the little actions that Elvis did that would inspire him or catch his eye when performing his role, such as the “All Shook Up” singer’s iconic hip movements. “The thing with him is they weren’t moves, they were coming out of the feel of the music,” he recounted. “So, for me, it had to be about finding the feeling of the music, moving me in that way. That was really fun. It was liberating.”

He then explained how many assumptions of Elvis were not actually true. “There’s so many things out there that have become these caricatures, so even talking about him curling his lip, it’s something he didn’t do as much as we think he did,” Butler elaborated. “He’d do it for a photo. It was finding how subtle can you go with things and still have the essence. It was this constant back and forth, and that’s the tricky thing, going back and forth between incredibly technical things and then never losing the humanity. Like, that was the goal, always have his soul in there.”

The Baz Luhrman film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in France on May 25, 2022, where it received a 12-minute standing ovation. Butler, along with the rest of the cast, walked the red carpet of The Met Gala on May 2, 2022. The film will release nationwide on June 24, 2022.