We Hope Austin Butler Talks Like Elvis In ‘Dune: Part II’January 13, 2023
At the Golden Globes on Tuesday, January 11, Austin Butler accepted the award for best actor for his performance in Baz Lurhmann’s Elvis. In his speech, he sounded exactly like Elvis Presley. So much so that it felt like Butler intentionally accepted the award in character. But he wasn’t in character, and Butler claims that he is unaware that he sounds exactly like Elvis now.
“I don’t even 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 at the Globes, per The Hollywood Reporter. “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 that there’s just pieces of my DNA that will always be linked in that way.”
I didn’t do that well in science class but I agree that this is how DNA works. Elvis began production in early 2020 and picked back up later in the year, and hit theaters in June 2022 after premiering at Cannes in May. Although it’s been good two-ish years since Butler played Elvis, he is still very much in a place of Elvis. This has been going on for months now. Throughout the Elvis press tour, Butler sounded like Elvis. This was all in good fun and added to the film’s admirable chaos, but it’s also quite common: actors sometimes actors play up their roles a little bit while promoting a film, to sell their character more: Christian Bale spoke in an American accent while promoting his Batman films because he claims he is bad at accents, and because he didn’t think anyone would buy it if the actor portraying the character was British. Butler is, whether he knows it or not, taking this to an extreme by making the voice permanent. But this is, allegedly, out of Butler’s control, because he is unaware that he speaks like Elvis in an extremely obvious way.
A deep dive into Butler’s pre–pre-Elvis (before Elvis was on the horizon), pre-Elvis, circa 2019 when Elvis was on the horizon, and post-Elvis voices is a journey. In the pre-pre Elvis era, Butler spoke with no accent at all. His voice is deep but not definingly so. It’s soft and he draws out some words in an Elvis-y manner, but it’s not nearly as dramatic as what is to come.
At the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood premiere in 2019, when Butler, a California native, was amidst the audition process for Elvis, his voice got deeper and he developed a southern drawl, marking the Pre-pre Elvis stage of his voice. He was working on the character, and his voice is changing, perhaps permanently as a result. Then there’s the post-Elvis era, aka the present. Butler straight-up sounds like Elvis. There’s almost no distinguishable difference between the voices of Butler and Butler as Elvis. Maybe Austin Butler is Elvis, DNA, and all.
It’s entirely possible that Butler is just committing to a bit. Or maybe he’s a Robert Pattinson-level liar and became so obsessed with Elvis that he’s just sticking with it. But voices can and do change over time, especially when you train yourself to speak in a certain way like an actor does. Like how DNA works, Butler is also not wrong about your surroundings changing how you speak: after I am around my family from Chicago, I have a midwestern accent for a few weeks.
The best thing that could happen to me, the world, and Austin Butler, is if Austin Butler’s Elvis voice sticks with him for the rest of his acting career. Later this year, Butler will appear as the villain Feyd-Rautha in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part II. It began shooting in the fall, which means it shot after Elvis, which means that the chance that Butler talks like Elvis in it is extremely high. Could you imagine a space desert Elvis speaking to Stellan Skarsgård’s wet blob emperor? To me, that is cinema. If Austin Butler talks like this in everything else he does, cinema could peak again. At this point, Austin Butler is living a life of camp, like Lady Gaga circa 2011 (remember that summer when she was an Italian man named Jo Calderone?)