- “Elvis” actor Austin Butler sings the songs of the early Elvis Presley himself in the film.
- After 1968, however, viewers hear the King himself again.
- You can find out exactly how this was technically accomplished in the studio here.
Just a few days ago, the musical biopic “Elvis” by legendary director Baz Luhrmann was released in German cinemas. The American actor Austin Butler slips into the skin of the King of Rock’n Roll Elvis Presley in a remarkable way. However, many viewers are wondering whether the 30-year-old actor sings the king’s songs himself.
To answer this question, a little digression is required.
Does Austin Butler sing himself in Elvis?
In fact, Austin Butler, who also starred in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, sang every line of text from “Elvis” himself – but not all of it made it into the finished film.
“Elvis” depicts the life of the rock ‘n’ roll legend from the late 1930s to his death in 1977. However, viewers only hear the first song when the biopic reaches the year 1954. Because in this year the real Elvis Presley released his first single “That’s Alright”, and at the same time the enigmatic Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) entered his life.
Elvis Presley’s singing can therefore only be heard between the years 1954 and 1977, i.e. over a period of only 23 years.
Austin Butler’s vocals can only be heard for about half of that time, though. Elliott Wheeler, who is responsible for the music at “Elvis”, betrayed the US industry newspaper Variety: “Butler sings everything until 1968, when he wears black leather. Everything after that was Elvis.”
For the later Elvis numbers in the film, the original audio tracks of the King were therefore isolated and placed in the “Elvis” songs. Incidentally, this studio trick was also used on “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the Oscar-winning biopic about Freddie Mercury and Band Queen.
But even in these later tracks, “Elvis” lead actor Austin Butler is still present. According to composer Wheeler, “a lot of breathing, grunting and body movements” found their way onto the audio track, butlers then jumped back to the King of Rock’n Roll himself for the sung lyrics.
Unfortunately, we don’t know anything specific about the reasons for this approach to “Elvis”. But in addition to Elvis’ increasing drug consumption (which, as is well known, also changes his voice), age could also simply play a role here. The King was 33 when he made his comeback in black leather – and the 30-year-old Austin Butler may simply not have been able to sing the older Elvis’ songs convincingly.
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