Why Does Austin Butler Still Sound Like Elvis?

Austin Butler spent three years away from his family shooting Elvis—and whenever he speaks publicly now, be it at the Golden Globes or elsewhere, you can still hear the King of Rock in his voice. In early February, Butler admitted he’s trying to change that and return to his pre-Elvis voice.

Here, what happened to his voice to begin with, explained.

What was Butler’s voice like before Elvis?

Before making the biopic, his voice sounded less deep, raspy, and didn’t have a Southern accent. But that’s clearly changed since filming.

Here’s what Butler sounded like five years ago while he was at New York City Comic Con, for reference, before he worked on Elvis:

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Austin Butler star of The Shannara Chronicles on SpikeTV – NYCC 2017

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And here’s how he sounded during his Golden Globes acceptance speech. Truly a big difference:

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How has Butler explained why his voice changed?

Butler addressed speculation that his voice has shifted for good while speaking to ELLE Australia in June. He says it’s in part a reaction to speaking in public.

“I hear that a lot,” he started with a laugh, “but I didn’t do anything else for two years [apart from working on Elvis], that’s such a large chunk of life. I’m not surprised that it clicks in.”

Butler added that he had a new realization about why his accent shifts between Elvis’ and his natural voice: “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. 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!”

Butler later poked fun at speculation that his voice changed while hosting Saturday Night Live in December. “There’s people out there who say that ever since I played Elvis, my voice has changed,” Butler said. “That it got deeper, more Elvis-y. But that’s not true. I’ve always sounded like this, and I can prove it.” The clip shown didn’t exactly prove it:

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Is Butler going to keep his Elvis accent forever?

He claimed on The Graham Norton Show in early February, he’s working to start speaking again without the Elvis accent. “I am getting rid of the accent, but I have probably damaged my vocal cords with all that singing,” Butler said, via Entertainment Tonight. “One song took 40 takes.” Butler made that claim shortly after he received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his work in the film.

Did Butler have his Elvis accent while shooting Dune 2?

Butler’s Dune co-star Dave Bautista told USA Today that no, Butler’s Elvis voice will not be heard in the sci-fi film, where Butler is playing Feyd-Rautha. Bautista said that Butler is “just the sweetest guy you’ll ever meet. I don’t know who this guy was, but it’s not Austin Butler. It’s not Elvis. His voice is different, his look is different. Everything about his demeanor is terrifying.”

Did Butler’s ex Vanessa Hudgens say anything about his accent?

She did but more underhandedly. Hudgens liked and commented on an Instagram post suggesting the accent was just part of Butler’s Oscar campaign.

“He went to the Lady Gaga school of campaign acting,” Instagram user Ryan Scott wrote, sharing a tweet from Page Six quoting an interview his vocal coach gave about his accent.

“Crying,” Hudgens commented.

vanessa hudgens' comment on the instagram


What did Butler’s vocal coach say about accent?

One of the coaches he worked with suggested it could be permanent. Dr. Irene Bartlett, told ABC Gold Coast in January, via Entertainment Tonight, “I feel sorry people are saying that, you know, it’s still acting [but] he’s actually taken [the voice] on board. I don’t know how long that will last, or if it’s going to be there forever.”

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Senior News and Strategy Editor

Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.

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