"Elvis" star Austin Butler still sounds a lot like the King these days, but the voice change is "genuine" — and could be permanent, his voice coach said.
Butler, who won a best actor trophy at the Golden Globes for his role in the Baz Luhrmann biopic, raised eyebrows when he delivered his acceptance speech sounding a lot like Presley.
His voice coach in the movie, Irene Bartlett, said in a new interview Butler isn’t mimicking Presley, but rather digging within himself.
“He was never going to be — and Baz Luhrmann didn’t want him to be — an Elvis impersonator, that’s the last thing they wanted him to be,” Irene Bartlett told Australia’s ABC Gold Coast.
“What they wanted was a true connection with the personality of Elvis and his story, and that’s what Austin worked on," she said. "What you saw in that Golden Globes speech, that’s him. It’s genuine, it’s not put on.”
Bartlett said she wished critics would take it easy on the 31-year-old star, who grew up in Southern California, far from Elvis' roots in Mississippi and Tennessee.
“I feel sorry people are saying that, you know, it’s still acting (but) he’s actually taken (the voice) on board,” she said. “I don’t know how long that will last, or if it’s going to be there forever.”
She also said the pandemic played a part in Butler retaining the voice that fans continue to hear.
“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 said.
Backstage at the Globes last week, Butler said had heard the chatter that he continues to talk like the soft-spoken "Hound Dog" singer.
“I don’t think about it. I don’t think I sound like him still, but I guess I must because I hear it a lot,” he told reporters.
“You know, I often liken it to when somebody 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.”
Butler also addressed his voice transformation on the Globes red carpet.
“It’s sort of like you’re a kid and you’re growing that’s why you have to draw lines on the wall,” he told Laverne Cox before the ceremony. “I can’t really reflect on it too much. It’s just this process that I don’t know the difference.”
His voice in the film impressed critics and fans alike, including one person whose opinion carries a lot of weight.
“The voice was down to a tee. I mean I … couldn’t believe it. I truly couldn’t believe it,” Priscilla Presley told an interviewer at the Globes.