Austin Butler’s voice coach explains why he still speaks in Elvis’ Memphis drawl: ‘It’s genuine’

Austin Butler’s voice coach defended his Elvis accent, after the actor baffled fans at the recent Golden Globes by continuing to speak in the King’s famous Memphis drawl.

Irene Bartlett, who trained the 31-year-old star for his role in Elvis, revealed the reason why Butler still sounds like the late superstar, and that his accent might remain ‘forever.’

‘What you saw in that Golden Globes speech, that’s him. It’s genuine, it’s not put on,’ Irene said on ABC’s Gold Coast on Monday, referring to Austin’s acceptance speech after he picked up his first Golden Globe Award for his role in the music icon’s biopic.

‘It’s genuine!’: Austin Butler’s voice coach Irene Bartlett defended his Elvis accent, after he baffled fans at the Golden Globes by continuing to speak in the King’s famous Memphis drawl

‘I feel sorry people are saying that, you know, it’s still acting [but] he’s actually taken [the voice of Presley] on board,’ she said, adding that the change might be permanent: ‘I don’t know how long that will last, or if it’s going to be there forever.’

Fans have been confused about the voice change since filming for Elvis wrapped in March 2021, and the movie was released June 24, 2022, however Irene further explained why Austin still sounds like he did in the movie.

‘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 on [and] time on.’

'It's not put on': 'What you saw in that Golden Globes speech, that's him.  It's genuine, it's not put on,' Irene said on ABC's Gold Coast on Monday, referring to Austin's acceptance speech after he picked up his first Golden Globe Award for role in music icon's biopic

‘It’s not put on’: ‘What you saw in that Golden Globes speech, that’s him. It’s genuine, it’s not put on,’ Irene said on ABC’s Gold Coast on Monday, referring to Austin’s acceptance speech after he picked up his first Golden Globe Award for role in music icon’s biopic

Forever?  She added that the voice change might be permanent: 'I don't know how long that will last, or if it's going to be there forever';  Butler in a still from Elvis

Forever? She added that the voice change might be permanent: ‘I don’t know how long that will last, or if it’s going to be there forever’; Butler in a still from Elvis

‘You know, when he came to his singing lessons he was dressed in 50s-style gear. 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. What they wanted was a true connection with the personality of Elvis and his story and that’s what Austin worked on.’

She also explained her method of training Austin: ‘I actually treated him like I would any of my other professional singers.’

‘Basically what I look for is what their natural singing voice is doing. I strip away all the effects someone is putting on, and I go “what does this natural voice sound like?” and what is working and what needs help in terms of enhancement, in terms of support, flexibility, stamina, all those things.’

Confused: Fans have been confused about the voice change since filming for Elvis wrapped in March 2021, however Irene explained: 'He was working on it all the time and it's difficult to switch off something you've spent so much focus [and] time on'

Confused: Fans have been confused about the voice change since filming for Elvis wrapped in March 2021, however Irene explained: ‘He was working on it all the time and it’s difficult to switch off something you’ve spent so much focus [and] time on’

Famous voice: The Jailhouse Rock hitmaker was known for his iconic low, southern drawl;  Pictured circa 1956, during recording for RCA

Famous voice: The Jailhouse Rock hitmaker was known for his iconic low, southern drawl; Pictured circa 1956, during recording for RCA

‘When you’ve got an iconic voice like that it’s really difficult. It’s very easy to be an impersonator because what you do is literally copy the sounds and the problem with that for someone like Austin is that it would not be sustainable.’

‘The voice is basically muscular — we call our high-level singers vocal athletes — it’s muscular, so they’ve got to find the efficiency and authenticity in their own voice,’ she added.

Butler was delighted as he scooped the award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for his work on the 2022 film Elvis – but the focus quickly switched to his incredibly different sounding voice.

As the star began: ‘I just want to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press for this honor’ before praising his ‘mama’, fans clocked he was still speaking in his Elvis-style Memphis drawl from the movie, almost two years after filming had ended .

Baffled: Fans took to social media to express their thoughts after Austin's acceptance speech left them baffled

Baffled: Fans took to social media to express their thoughts after Austin’s acceptance speech left them baffled

Austin compared his accent to that of someone who lives in another country as he spoke with reporters in the Winners’ Room after his big win.

I don’t even think about it. I don’t think I sound like him still, but I guess I haven’t noticed ’cause I hear it a lot. I think, 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.’

Austin was so dedicated to perfecting his role as Elvis in the renowned biopic released last summer that he did not see his family for three years as he prepared for the film in Australia.

Production for Elvis was postponed in March 2020 when one of its stars, Tom Hanks, was diagnosed with COVID-19 and hospitalized.

What?  One fan wrote: 'Austin Butler's voice is WILD that cannot be real' while a second typed: 'When is Austin Butler going to switch his voice back to normal?'

What? One fan wrote: ‘Austin Butler’s voice is WILD that cannot be real’ while a second typed: ‘When is Austin Butler going to switch his voice back to normal?’

When the pandemic started, the Elvis set was shut down indefinitely. Butler declined an invitation to be flown back to his home in Los Angeles and instead used the lockdown as an opportunity to immerse himself in all things Elvis.

Butler told Variety that during this time, not only would Elvis be the ‘only thing’ he ever thought about, he would also speak in his voice because ‘this is what it takes.’

The actor is currently mourning the death of Elvis’ only child, daughter Lisa Marie Presley, who supported him at the Golden Globes before passing on January 12 from cardiac arrest at age 54.

I am eternally grateful for the time I was lucky enough to be near her bright light and will forever cherish the quiet moments we shared. Her warmth, her love and her authenticity will always be remembered,’ he said in a statement to E! News on Friday, January 13 – one day after her death.

Mourning: Butler is currently mourning the death of Elvis' only child, daughter Lisa Marie Presley, who supported him at the Golden Globes before passing on January 12 from cardiac arrest at age 54;  Pictured at the 80th Golden Globes

Mourning: Butler is currently mourning the death of Elvis’ only child, daughter Lisa Marie Presley, who supported him at the Golden Globes before passing on January 12 from cardiac arrest at age 54; Pictured at the 80th Golden Globes

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