Austin Butler Actually Can't Stop Talking Like Elvis, Says His Vocal Coach

The actor's recent public appearances have people wondering whether his voice has changed for good.

Filming on the 2022 movie Elvis wrapped nearly two years ago, but there's aspect of the music icon's identity that star Austin Butler still can't seem to shake: his voice. When he accepted the award for Best Actor in a drama film at the Golden Globes earlier this month (and when he hosted Saturday Night Live late last year), viewers couldn't help but notice that the star still speaks in the voice he used to play Elvis Presley. It's particularly noticeable because Butler is from California—not the south—and it's well documented that his voice sounded much different before he took on the role. On social media, fans have wondered whether he's still acting, if his voice has permanently changed, and whether he's even aware that it's happening.

Butler has addressed questions about his voice, and now, one of his vocal coaches from Elvis has also shared her thoughts. According to her, Butler may talk like Presley for the rest of his life. Read on to find out why.

READ THIS NEXT: Elvis Reportedly "Flew Into a Rage" Any Time This Star Was Mentioned.

Butler took developing the voice very seriously.

Dr. Irene Bartlett, who worked with Butler on his singing voice for the film, was interviewed by Australia's ABC Gold Coast about their process. She said that she first worked with the actor to find his natural voice, then went from there to develop a voice that would sound close to Presley's, while not taking on anything too strenuous or unsustainable. (Butler performs many of Presley's songs from early in his career in the movie, but Bartlett noted that the icon's voice changed too much later in his life for the actor to sing those songs.)

Butler was worked on the voice for even longer than anyone expected he'd be able to, Bartlett said. And its staying power may have something to do with that. "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," she explained.

"He was never going to be—and [director] Baz Luhrmann didn't want him to be—an Elvis impersonator, that's the last thing they wanted him to be," Bartlett continued. "What they wanted was a true connection with the personality of Elvis and his story and that's what Austin worked on."

His new voice is "genuine."

Bartlett said that despite what viewers may have thought, Butler's Golden Globes speech was not an act.

"What you saw in that Golden Globes speech, that's him. It's genuine, it's not put on," she said. "I feel sorry people are saying that, you know, it's still acting [but] he's actually taken [the voice] on board."

The vocal coach added that there's no telling how long the 31-year-old will speak this way. "I don't know how long that will last, or if it's going to be there forever," she added.

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Butler says there are parts of Presley he still carries with him.

Austin Butler at the TCL Chinese Theatre in June 2022
Joe Seer / Shutterstock

Back in June 2022, around the time that Elvis hit theaters, Butler talked about the noticeable shift in his voice. Asked about it by Elle Australia, he said, "I hear that a lot, but I didn't do anything else for two years [apart from working on Elvis], that's such a large chunk of life. Im not surprised that it clicks in."

He also said that the voice has worked as something of a shield in high-stress situations. "Because I'm a shy person, and when I know that there's bits of Elvis that I'd have to click into in order to go out on stage and be in front of a ton of people, being surrounded by his name everywhere, there's triggers," he said.

The actor added, "You spend so much time obsessing about one thing, and it really is like muscular habits, your mouth can change. Its pretty amazing. I know that I'm constantly changing. Check in with me in 20 years when I've played a lot of roles, who knows what I'll sound like!"

He "even think about" the voice anymore.

"I don't even think about it. I don't think I sound like him still," Butler said in the press room after winning the Golden Globe. "But I guess I must because I hear it a lot. You know, I often liken it to when someone who lives in another country for a long time. I had three years where [the role] was my only focus in life, so I'm sure there will always be pieces of my DNA that will always be linked in that way."

There will be more chances for movie fans to hear the actor's noticeably deeper pipes. Butler is nominated for BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild awards and is expected to be nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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