The Elvis Presley song that caused Austin Butler to lose his voice

Austin Butler has acted since he was a teenager, starring in several children’s shows such as Hannah Montana, Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, and iCarly. However, the 31-year-old actor has only recently received critical acclaim due to his performance in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic Elvis, where he played the King of Rock and Roll himself.

Butler’s filmography shifted away from poor-performing and critically-panned comedies when he starred in two successful movies in 2019: Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Yet, his performance as Elvis Presley under the direction of Luhrmann, a filmmaker also known for Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, solidified Butler as a burgeoning star. Not only did Butler embody the musician with scary accuracy, but he also demonstrated impressive singing skills, which will undoubtedly land the actor a leading musical role in the near future.

Butler’s dedication to the role has been the subject of much online ridicule, mainly because the actor has yet to stop speaking in a Presley-esque drawl. However, his commitment to the role paid off, recently winning him a Golden Globe for Best Actor. Furthermore, Butler was praised by Presley’s family, with his daughter Lisa-Marie taking to Instagram to write: “[Butler] channelled and embodied my father’s heart and soul beautifully. In my humble opinion, his performance is unprecedented and FINALLY done accurately and respectfully.”

However, the process of becoming Elvis was challenging for Butler. During an interview with VMAN, the actor shared his experience recording some of the singer’s iconic hits. “On my first day in the recording studio, Baz wanted me to get as close to performing as possible,” he explained. “He had all the executives and everybody from RCA who returned from the offices and brought them into the recording studio. He goes, ‘I want you all to sit facing Austin,’ and he told them to heckle me.”

“So then they were making fun of me and stuff while I was singing,” he added. “When we were filming this moment when Elvis first goes on stage, and he’s getting heckled by the audience, I knew what that felt like. I went home in tears that night. I did”. Recording Presley’s music was, clearly, not the easiest of tasks to undertake.

Shortly after, the actor told NME how one specific song caused him to lose his voice – ‘Never Been to Spain’. The track appears on Presley’s 1972 live album Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden. He explained: “It just fires me up. I love to turn it on super-loud in the car and drive. Singing ‘Never Been to Spain’ once on set, my voice went out. I lost the mid-range of my voice for a couple of days.” Butler had to stop speaking for a few days to recover: “Thankfully, it was on a Friday so that we could take the weekend off, so I went on vocal rest and didn’t speak for two days to let the vocal cords rest. It’s a tough sing!”

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