Elvis Presley wasn’t just a character to play for actor Austin Butler — it’s apparently in his DNA.
The actor won the award for Best Performance in a drama for his titular role in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” at the 2023 Golden Globes on Tuesday.
And audiences are still abuzz over the 31-year-old’s part in the movie — not so much for his acting, but for his seemingly permanent vocal transformation inspired by the late rock & roller, which has lingered since Butler shot the film.
Butler addressed the change — called “cringe” by Twitter users — backstage at the awards show, saying he doesn’t hear his Elvis-esque voice when he speaks, yet admitted it’s now a part of him.
“I don’t think I sound like him still, but I guess I must because I hear it a lot,” Butler 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,” he continued. “So, I’m sure there’s just pieces of my DNA that will always be linked in that way.”
“That’s not how DNA works but go on,” one critic tweeted.
“Method to another level woah,” mocked another.
Butler is used to the backlash over his changing accent by now, and even poked fun at himself when he hosted “Saturday Night Live” last month.
“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. And I can prove it.”
The former “Disney” kid star then splashed a clip of himself from a 10-year-old interview, in which his vocal pitch had been artificially keyed-up to resemble that of a cartoon chipmunk.
Butler has spoken at length about his dedication to the exuberant musical biopic, revealing to Variety in December that he had all but disappeared while working on the film — only to reemerge as “The King.”
“During ‘Elvis,’ I didn’t see my family for about three years. I was prepping with Baz, and then I went to Australia [to film]. I had months where I wouldn’t talk to anybody,” he told the publication.
“And when I did, the only thing I was ever thinking about was Elvis,” he continued. “I was speaking in his voice the whole time.”