The Warner Bros. “Elvis,” is a biopic about Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) and Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), directed by Baz Luhrmann. While I thought that the performances and the movie did an incredible job at displaying the life Elvis led in fame, and the many issues he had with his family, his wife Pricilla, drugs and of course, his controversial manager, Colonel Tom Parker, there are many others who do not agree.
The movie was meant to be dramatic, but one aspect of Tom Hanks’ character caused many to not be able to take it seriously. Most viewers had a hard time with his character’s historically inaccurate Dutch accent. Hanks read that Parker was the name Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk gave to himself after illegally immigrating to the US and just ran with it. Parker did not want people to know that he was not born in the United States. After joining the military and spending most of his life in the United States, he did not keep a Dutch accent for his time as Elvis’s manager. After watching many interviews that the actual Colonel gave, it is clear that the accent portrayed in the movie really did not have a reason to be there.
The star of the show, Austin Butler really was just that: a star. He played Elvis Presley to a tee, mirroring his every voice crack, hand gesture and mannerism. Butler certainly had big shoes to fill, and he knew that. As many people impersonate him for a living, along with his references in the media, it is hard to not know Elvis. “Elvis” was Butler’s big break after having more minimal roles in television shows. Knowing what being cast as Elvis meant for his career, he went above and beyond in preparation to ensure he did The King justice.
Austin Butler tells us in a Press Conference with the Cannes Film Festival how he transformed from a former child actor to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Butler explains how in becoming Elvis, he had to isolate for two years during the filming of the movie. Butler watched every single public and archived interview and all videos and recordings of Elvis’ singing and dancing. But that wasn’t enough. In order to do Elvis justice, he needed to get every movement right. Butler gave the example of how he prepared for “Hound Dog,” one of Elvis’s most famous songs. “I would watch Milton Berle ‘Hound Dog,’ I watched one second of this clip over and over and over, looking at what his eyes were doing and the angle of his head, what his hand was doing and try to find it exactly and practice that until it was in my marrow,” Butler explained.
In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, Austin Butler showed off his knowledge of Elvis in how easy it is for him to change into his voice, even with the subtle differences of each decade of his fame. Butler explains that there are nuances in how Elvis’ voice changes from merely aging (Elvis’ first live performance at the Louisiana Hayride was at just 19 years old) and from the constant use of his voice.
Unlike many other musical biopics, such as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” it was Austin Butler’s voice we heard singing. Later in the film there was some voice mixing, but most of the film featured Butler belting. This is something fascinating because despite Elvis having such a unique singing style, Butler was able to match it almost perfectly.
The praise received not only by fans but also by Presley’s family is a testament to the incredible work that Butler put into the movie. With award season approaching, Butler’s Elvis may reach new levels of recognition by the higher strands of Hollywood. .