It’s the kind of tragedy you can absolutely see coming, but it hurts nonetheless. Austin Butler, who took up Method acting to play Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, has announced that the voice he adopted to play the King of Rock and Roll is no longer with us.
Butler did not mince words on The Graham Norton Show, where he told his host, via Entertainment Weekly, “I am getting rid of the accent.” (“Getting rid of”…? How ominous! We hope the death was swift and painless.) “But I have probably damaged my vocal cords with all that singing,” Butler added. “One song took 40 takes.”
Although it’s lived only a short life, Austin Butler’s Elvis Voice—like many a big vocal performance before it—has garnered quite the reputation. Sources tell The Daily Beast that it had been spending time with Lady Gaga’s House of Gucci voice before Butler announced its demise. The accent’s downfall seemed to begin in January at the Golden Globes ceremony, where viewers seemed bewildered to notice Butler was still using it.
Butler has discussed the extreme preparations he undertook to play Presley; for three years, he did not break character and did not see his family. (We’re sure they’re relieved to have both him and his normal voice back.) Speaking with E! News on the Globes red carpet, Butler said his continued Elvis drawl is “hard for me to talk about… I can’t really reflect on it too much. It’s just this process that—I don’t know the difference.”
After accepting his Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama, Butler offered further insights about The Voice while speaking with reporters backstage. “I don’t think I sound like him still, but I guess I must because I hear it a lot,” he said. “I often liken it to when somebody lives in another country for a long time. 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.”
Speaking with ABC after the ceremony, Butler’s vocal coach Irene Bartlett insisted that the sonic slips were “genuine” and “not a put on.”
“I don’t know how long that will last, or if it’s going to be there forever,” she said.
If only we knew then what we know now: It was not forever. (Well, a lot of us knew that, but an anticipated loss is a loss all the same.) Like all good things, Austin Butler’s Elvis Voice has come to an end—gone but not forgotten, far away but never silenced.