Austin Butler on taking part in Elvis Presley: "How do I let my soul meet his soul?"
- Movie Interviews
- October 30, 2021
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“I despatched on this tape of me singing ‘Unchained Melody’,” says Butler. The place many actors could be tempted to file a barnstorming present to show they may match the famous person performer, Butler recorded a stripped again efficiency, simply him and a piano. Luhrmann had discovered his man. Not that Butler knew that but.
“Baz doesn’t audition in a traditional method. He doesn’t do many issues in a traditional method,” he laughs. “I flew to New York and spoke to Baz for about three hours. He requested me to come back again the subsequent day and browse the script with him. So I got here in and browse some scenes, then he requested me to come back again the subsequent day and sing a few songs. We did that day after day for about 5 months and I didn’t know if I had the job but.”
These 5 months of labor proved to be invaluable when Butler lastly discovered he had the half, in July 2019. “We already had all these months of exploring this collectively and asking all of the questions on what we thought was attainable. And I had all that point to ask myself the query of whether or not it was attainable.” Butler threw himself into preparation, but it surely was truly a journey that began a long time earlier than.
Butler grew up in Anaheim, California, which is the place he was first launched to Elvis. “My grandmother beloved Elvis,” he remembers. “I keep in mind she would at all times have Elvis movies on in the home. Each my grandmothers beloved Elvis, in truth. The opposite one would have loads of his ’50s music taking part in, as a result of that was when she was in highschool.” Elvis was a part of the soundtrack of his earliest days, however he hadn’t given a lot thought to the person behind the icon. “I didn’t know a lot about his private life. I didn’t know a lot about how he grew up. I needed to seek out out the whole lot I may.”
At this time, Butler appears to be like very completely different from Elvis. His hair, which was dyed a deep brown and slicked again for filming, is again to its pure blond, scruffily held in place with sun shades on prime of his head. He appears to be like tanned and relaxed. However in his voice there’s nonetheless a hint of Elvis’ Mississippi twang, his vowels lengthy and his talking tempo unhurried. It’s a mark of how deeply he embedded himself within the course of.
Even when capturing was paused through the pandemic, Butler remained on location in Australia and continued exploring who Elvis was, watching each interview he may, studying each guide, and minutely analyzing each monitor. Taking part in any real-life individual is difficult however there’s one thing particularly powerful about Elvis. He’s one of the impersonated celebrities in historical past. There are such a lot of Elvis impersonators on this planet there’s even a world file for essentially the most Elvis impersonators in a single constructing (895, set in 2014, because you ask). Butler wanted to discover ways to be Elvis with out trying like he was simply one other impersonator.
“We’re speaking about discovering the depth of a human being. I needed to break it into items,” he says. “I might spend hours of the day simply engaged on discovering his voice. That was discovering how his voice modified over years – it modified lots from the place the movie begins, in ‘54/55, to ‘77. His spirituality modifications. His relationships. The way in which he strikes. I must break every a kind of issues down.”
He dug and dug, at all times trying to unearth extra secrets and techniques about his topic. “I’d hear a vocal mannerism and turn out to be obsessive about it. I’d take heed to it 1,000 occasions and file it and work till I sounded the identical.” He even discovered karate, as a result of Elvis discovered karate. “I used to be all about ‘how do I turn out to be an identical and never only a copy. How do I let his soul meet my soul?’”
Audiences will see the outcomes of Butler’s immense dedication when Elvis arrives in cinemas on June 24. For Butler, will probably be the end result of three of essentially the most difficult and rewarding years of his life. “It simply is actually essentially the most immense privilege,” says Butler of the expertise.
“Attending to collaborate with Baz and Tom and Olivia [DeJonge, who plays Priscilla, Elvis’ wife] and… be a part of Elvis’ legacy, it’s so particular. Being at this place in my profession the place I’m in a position to work with different artists, actors and administrators that I’ve admired for therefore lengthy and get to make tales that basically excite me, I simply actually really feel blessed.”
And if he has any nerves about his large second, he doesn’t present them. As a result of that’s not what Elvis would do. He’d simply get on the market and provides the folks a present, get all of them shook up.
Check out NME’s particular movie version Elvis digital journal proper right here. Don’t miss Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks, in cinemas June 24. E book tickets now.
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