Why ‘Elvis’ Star Austin Butler Can’t Shake His Elvis Presley Accent

by Alex Falls

Austin Butler’s performance in Elvis is one of the biggest talking points in Hollywood right now. He has received great acclaim for his transformation into Elvis Presley, even from the King’s own family. But his transformation was so thorough that he finds himself falling back into character even in his normal life.

“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 immersed himself into the life of Elvis Presley. The King was known for many things throughout his illustrious career. His films, Graceland, his tendency for excess; but above all else, he loved the music. Butler’s performance focuses on that true love of music rather than anything else.

“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.”

Butler’s performance has not just been received positively by film fans, but also by the surviving Presley family. Priscilla Presley posted a heartfelt message about the film’s premiere at Graceland and praised Butler for recharging the life of Elvis.

“And there’s a responsibility to his family and also putting his story into context,” Butler said. “That’s the thing. There were so many misconceptions about him, there’s so many ideas of him. So I felt a responsibility to bring the humanity,” he shared. 

How Austin Butler Created Such a Performance

The film’s director, Baz Luhrmann, is known for his highly stylized production style. His direction made the perfect fit to get Elvis’s story told effectively on screen. He was instrumental in helping Butler craft his portrayal.

During an interview with Jake Takes, Austin Butler talked about meeting with DiCaprio and the advice he gave on working with the famed director. “I got to speak to Leo [DiCaprio] beforehand and he told me, ‘Baz is going to keep you off balance,’ Butler said. ‘But it’s going to pull things out of you, you never knew you had inside you.'”

Austin Butler also revealed that DiCaprio’s advice was right on the mark. “And that’s exactly what it was. [Luhrmann] pushed me right to the edge of what I thought was possible. And I always knew that if I fell, he had me. That I was safe.”

Butler eventually found a kinship with Elvis that undoubtedly lead to a more authentic experience. He may have been acting, but he still had to get on stage and perform like the King himself did. Elvis might have been the ultimate showman, but he, like Butler, had serious stage fright.

“The fact that I knew he experienced stage fright, it relieved so much,” Butler said. “Because I knew in those moments, I’m feeling fear, but he was feeling fear, so it’s not something that you need to not feel in order to do the things that you believe in. So that was beautiful.”