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Why Does Austin Butler Still Sound Like Elvis?

Town and Country 3/12/2023 Emily Burack
The Oscar-nominated Elvis star is *still* talking in his Elvis accent. © FREDERIC J. BROWN - Getty Images The Oscar-nominated Elvis star is *still* talking in his Elvis accent.

Austin Butler, born and raised in Anaheim, California, still talks like Elvis Presley, who was raised in Mississippi with a distinctly southern drawl. His performance as the King of Rock and Roll in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis earned Butler his first Oscar nomination, and the voice has clearly stuck with him since he wrapped filming in 2021.

"I don't think I sound like him still, but I guess I must because I hear it a lot," Butler said at the Golden Globes earlier this year. "I often liken it to when somebody lives in another country for a long time, and I had three years where that was my only focus in life, so I 'm sure there's just pieces of my DNA that will always be linked in that way."

Why does Butler still sound like Elvis?

His singing coach on Elvis, Irene Bartlett, said the voice is hard to "switch off." She explained, "Because of COVID shutdowns he was working on it all the time, and it's difficult to switch off something you've spent so much focus time on." Bartlett added she's not sure if he'll be able to return to his previous speaking voice. "I don't know how long that will last, or if it's going to be there forever."

Butler was deep in prep for Elvis, and speaking in the famous singer's voice, for a long time. "During Elvis, I didn’t see my family for about three years," Butler told Variety. "I was prepping with Baz, and then I went to Australia. I had months where I wouldn’t talk to anybody. And when I did, the only thing I was ever thinking about was Elvis. I was speaking in his voice the whole time."

He's now asking himself if Elvis's voice is just his voice now. "At this point, I keep asking people, 'Is this my voice?' because this feels like my real [voice]," he said. "It’s one of those things where certain things trigger it and other times as well it’s, I don’t know. 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."

Yet, Butler's trying to get rid of the voice, he said. "People pull clips from when I was 17," he said on The Graham Norton Show. "I try to stay off social media, so my publicist told me, you know, people are talking about your voice and these sorts of things. And it really made me self-conscious for a second because I thought,'Am I being phony? Is this not my voice?'" He added, "I am getting rid of the accent, but I have probably damaged my vocal cords with all that singing."

Tonight, Butler is up for Best Actor. If he wins, we'll just have to see if he speaks in Elvis's voice—or his own.

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