Austin Butler’s singing coach defends his ‘Elvis’ voice

Austin Butler’s voice has been a hot topic of discussion as he continues to talk like Elvis.

While many have said the voice is “cringe,” his singing coach is defending him as nothing more than a hard worker.

“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,” Irene Bartlett, who was hired to work with Butler in 2019, told ABC Gold Coast.

The voice coach said Butler, 31, spent years building a “connection” with Elvis’ personality and was fully committed to playing the part — even coming to singing lessons dressed in “50s-style gear.”

But “Elvis” director Baz Luhrmann never wanted Butler to be an Elvis impersonator, so they worked hard to bridge that gap.

“When you’ve got an iconic voice like that it’s really difficult,” Bartlett said. “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.”

Austin Butler spent years building a “connection” with Elvis’ personality.
Mike Marsland/WireImage

Bartlett said she’s not sure when — or if — Butler will be able to rid himself of the accent.

“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 admitted that the transformation of Butler’s voice for older Elvis could have been too much of a strain on him.

Austin Butler, winner of the Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama award for "Elvis"
Austin Butler won Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama award for “Elvis” at the 2023 Golden Globes.
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moët and Chandon

“It’s his voice on all Elvis material up until 1968, I believe, in the movie,” Bartlett said. “After that, he still sings the beginning of everything, even the older stuff, but then it gets really belty and heavy.”

“Unfortunately Elvis had taken a lot of pharmaceutical drugs and things, that all affects your voice. So it was very smart in not making [Butler] do all of that. They just merged his voice with Elvis’ voice by taking stems from original recordings,” she continued.

Butler won a Golden Globe for best actor for his performance in the biopic and has previously addressed his change of voice.

Austin Butler poses with the Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama award for "Elvis" a the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards with Moët And Chandon at The Beverly Hilton on January 10, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California.
Austin Butler believes the “Elvis” voice is part of his DNA.
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moët and Chandon

He joked about it in his monologue when he hosted “Saturday Night Live.”

“There’s people out there who say that ever since I played Elvis, my voice has changed,” he said on the Dec. 17 episode. “That it got deeper, more Elvis-y. But that’s not true. I’ve always sounded like this.”

Butler also addressed it backstage at the Golden Globes, claiming the voice was now part of his DNA.

“I don’t think I sound like him still, but I guess I must because I hear it a lot,” the actor said. “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 there’s just pieces of my DNA that will always be linked in that way.”