It is a dazzling performance, which will not fail to speak in the biopic of Baz Luhrmann dedicated to Elvis Presley. But how much has Austin Butler invested himself musically?
Fantasy fans may have discovered it in The Shannara Chronicles series, which aired between 2016 and 2017 before it was canceled after two short seasons. But it was at Cannes that Austin Butler revealed himself. And three times: among the zombies and the bloated cast of Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die, which opened in 2019, first of all. Then as a disturbing killer in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino, the same year.
But it is certainly in 2022 that the turning point takes place, out of competition but in the foreground and in the guise of Elvis Presley, in the biopic dedicated to him by Baz Luhrmann. And in which he delivers an absolutely breathtaking performance, especially in the way he moves like the King on stage, with crazy energy. But is it also he who gives voice?
The answer is obviously yes: when you see Elvis sing in the film of the same name, it is the voice of Austin Butler that you hear. And so that every viewer is convinced, Baz Luhrmann has posted a camera test from 2019, in which the actor also plays the guitar.
As the director specifies in his tweet, it is the actor, and him alone, that we hear when the young Elvis sings. Where his voice and that of the King are mixed when the singer is older, so that the tone is as faithful as possible. But the investment of the actor exceeded the expectations of his director.
“I thought he couldn’t provide the voice of young Elvis, so I told him we were going to get a singer to record the songs”tells us Baz Luhrmann at the Cannes Film Festival last May. “He said he didn’t mind doing it himself. And when I asked him if he was singing, he waved that we’d see. He came in the next day with a song, and it was Elvis. He practiced a lot a lot, but he was 100 per cent in the role.”
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“When the process started, I made sure my voice was the same [à la sienne]”explained Austin Butler to the HollywoodReporter in February. “It’s scary. But it was the spark that allowed the fire to catch. And for the year before filming began, I had vocal coaching.” In addition to watching many videos, in order to capture the tone and gestures of Elvis, and pay him the most beautiful tribute.
“I feel a great responsibility towards Elvis, Priscilla [sa femme, ndlr] and Lisa Marie [sa fille, ndlr]as well as to all the people in the world who love him so much.” After having triumphed over Harry Styles, Ansel Elgort or Aaron Taylor-Johnson during the auditions, Austin Butler thus proved to Baz Luhrmann that he was not mistaken. And it would not be surprising if his breathtaking performance took him to the Oscars on March 27.
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