‘Elvis’ Star Austin Butler Talks Major Challenges of Portraying the King

by Leanne Stahulak

Portrayng someone in a biopic is difficult enough, but Austin Butler faced the immense challenge of embodying the King of Rock and Roll himself, Elvis Presley.

The Baz Luhrmann-directed film “Elvis” hits theaters next Friday, June 24. Austin Butler stars in the titular role, which came with its fair share of challenges. He shared some of those challenges with Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of the late singer, in a “20/20” special that airs this Tuesday.

“Looking at your dad, you watch him on stage and you just go, ‘How are you doing that?'” the actor told Lisa Marie, per EW. “It’s so remarkable, and it’s hard not to feel like you’re so small in comparison and that you’re not enough. And so, for me, all those things that I could then find that clicked into his spirit then became the thing that carried me through.”

Based on early screening reviews and praise from the family so far, it sounds like Austin Butler really did embody that spirit. “Elvis” follows not only the singer’s professional career but also his personal relationships with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, and his ex-wife, Priscilla Presley. Tom Hanks play Parker while Olivia DeJonge took on the role of Priscilla.

In the “20/20” special, Lisa Marie said of Butler’s role, “It’s almost as if he channeled him. He put everything he had, his heart, his soul, everything he had into researching, reading, watching, learning. He honored him in every way possible.”

Austin Butler Can’t Shake His Elvis Presley Accent Now

Austin Butler apparently committed to the role of Elvis so much that he can’t shake the accent he adopted for the part. If you listen to Butler speak in other TV shows or films, he uses a typical American accent. But for “Elvis,” Butler had to learn a true Mississippi drawl.

“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 said in an interview with ET Online. “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’s friends and family will have to get used to the accent for the time being. At least until he gets a new acting gig that requires him to lose it.

But while he was filming “Elvis,” Austin Butler totally immersed himself into the singer’s life and persona. He watched all the films and videos he could, listened to the music on repeat, talked to people who knew him. But when he had to perform for the film and channel Elvis’s on stage energy, he focused on the music.

“The thing with him is they weren’t moves, they were coming out of the feel of the music,” Butler said. “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.”

See “Elvis” in theaters on Friday, June 24.