Austin Butler’s Elvis the Pelvis

To play Elvis, Butler just had to keep studying him. I am convinced he got there.

To play Elvis, Butler just had to keep studying him. I am convinced he got there.

With a total of four screenings, Elvis replaced Dune as my most-watched movie in theaters. Ok, look, watching Austin Butler sing “hound dog” as the King of Rock and Roll is more entertaining than you think. While some taunt him for his lingering Elvis voice, I praise him for truly connecting to Elvis to the point where he doesn’t know the edge of reality. (Although method acting is a dangerous line to cross. I don’t recommend it.) 

Butler as Elvis in Elvis’s ’68 Comeback Special (Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

For two screenings, I solely watched Butler. I wanted to see if there was a particular moment where he didn’t live in the moment, if he “played to the camera.” This expression is used in the film when an actor artificially imitates an emotion without genuinely feeling the emotion inside of them. Moral of the story: I believe Butler. Every second of it. From stardom to stardust. Spanning three decades, Butler knows how Elvis’ voice evolved, feeling every movement Presley ever performed like it was his own. I am convinced Butler is Elvis during the scenes of Elvis’s ‘68 special.

Austin’s breakdown therapy session — or audition — that he sent to Director Baz Luhrman and the good word Denzel Washington put in for Butler after working with him on the Broadway The Iceman Cometh (my mother got to see it on Broadway, and I am very jealous) got him the role. Oh, also after MONTHS of more auditioning. (Here’s an article about the audition process.) Now, all he had to do was play one of the most loved people in American and music history. 

Austin spent every second watching Elvis, giving all of himself to the role. (Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

To play an icon, you have to view them as an average man. Butler’s first connection to Elvis was relating the death of Elvis’ mother, or world, to the death of his mother at the age of 23 — the same age Presley was when his mother died. After that, Butler just had to keep studying the true Elvis Aaron Presley. I am convinced he got there. Austin spent every second watching Elvis, giving all of himself to the role. He even admits: “You can lose touch with who you actually are. And I definitely had that when I finished Elvis—not knowing who I was” in his interview with GQ, which you can read here. Through filming, Butler was definitely challenged, as he commented in an interview with Entertainment Tonight: “Yeah, I mean the whole beginning process of this was me kind of going ‘do I believe I can do it?’ because I didn’t believe it in the beginning, but I wanted to take on the challenge. So, it was like looking at Mount Everest and going ‘I want to climb that, but I don’t know if I have it in me.’” That challenge, however, only made him work harder. That challenge only made him internalize everything until he knew everything he did was true. 

Butler carries the film. His performance is raw, inspiring, tragic, and a whole roller coaster ride. Not to jinx it, but Austin Butler will (probably) be nominated for (if not win) an Oscar. If not, I will sue. 

Oh yeah, and obviously, watch the movie.


by Abbie Lindblad ’24, Arts and Entertainment Editor and Managing Copy Editor