Austin Butler in Elvis: Did he sing in Elvis and how much did he get paid?

Your questions answered about the smash hit biopic

a still of Austin Butler in Elvis dancing next to a microphone with a band behind him
(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Elvis is the hit biopic about the Rock 'n' Roll star that continues to capture audience attention in 2023. But many fans are asking, did Austin Butler in Elvis sing?

Many are wondering where to watch Elvis in the UK and US since the film stopped showing in cinemas. Directed by award-winning director Baz Luhrmann of Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet fame, it sees Austin Butler take on the title role of the King of Rock and Roll, before his untimely death in 1977. Naturally audience members are full of questions about the 30-year-old's uncanny embodiment of Presley. Such as did Austin Buter sing and how did he capture his voice? We share all the details you need to know about the star - including information about Austin Butler's girlfriend - ahead of The Oscars this weekend.

Many viewers have also been trying to separate fact from fiction in the film, wanting to know more about what really went down between the music legend and his manager. We've delved into the true story of Elvis firing the colonel on stage and what happened to Sanders after the king's untimely death.

Did Austin Butler sing in the Elvis film?

Yes, Austin Butler did sing in Elvis. However, for certain parts, the real Elvis' voice was also blended in. The 31-year-old watched multiple videos of Elvis performing, studying footage of films and concerts to perfect the legendary singer’s voice.

Austin said: "When I began the process, I set out to get my voice to be identical. That instils fear. So that got the fire burning. For a year before we started shooting, I was doing voice coaching.

"I feel such a responsibility to Elvis and to [ex-wife] Priscilla and [daughter] Lisa Marie, and all the people around the world who love him so much.”

Austin added to USA Today: "All the '50s stuff, that's me. After that, it's a mix of me and Elvis."

In an interview with EW, Austin said: "I created my own archive of how he said every word and every diphthong, and the way that he used musicality in his voice.

"I scoured all of them. I looked at every YouTube video I could find and every film that I could watch, and I started making my own [sound catalog]. I broke it into time periods because his voice changed quite a lot over the course of his life."

According to the publication, the Las Vegas residency years - which took up a large part of Elvis's final act - saw director Baz Lurhmann use a mix of Austin's voice and real-life performances from Elvis Presley to create the final sound.

Austin Butler singing Suspicious Minds

Austin Butler's performance of Suspicious Minds is one of the most significant scenes in the movie, with Austin nailing it as an almost identical performance to Elvis'. 

In this song, a mix of Austin and Elvis' voices were used, and speaking about the performance, Austin admitted: "On Suspicious Minds in particular, I can't tell when my voice ends and his begins."

One fan commented of the scene: "Just for the suspicious minds scene Austin Butler deserves an oscar nom. He had me completely at this part. He really went off."

How did Austin Butler get the role of Elvis?

Austin Butler stood out for his peculiar audition video, which featured a clip of himself wearing a bathrobe and delivering a rendition of the song "Unchained Melody."

Director Baz Luhrmann wasn't quite sure what to make of this odd approach, but he was intrigued enough to allow Austin to proceed to the next stages of the grand Elvis casting tournament - and he eventually landed the role.

Casting director Denise Chamian said of Austin: “From the very beginning, there was something about Austin to me that was a little reminiscent of Elvis. “

Other actors that were in the mix as finalists for the role included Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, and Harry Styles. Denise added: “When we got to Austin, I said, 'This is your Elvis,' and Baz just looked at me. It’s a pretty big statement to make. 

"Shortly thereafter, I had Austin go on tape and that started the process of Baz meeting with him, doing a workshop in New York and we tested him along with other actors. Until we did the screen tests, I don’t think it was clear to anybody, necessarily, that it was going to be Austin. There were a lot of factors to really consider. He was also pretty much unknown out of that group of guys."

Austin even impressed big time actor Denzel Washington, with Baz revealing: “I get a phone call out of the blue from Denzel Washington, who I did not know. Denzel Washington just said, in the most incredibly emotional and direct way, 'Look, I've just been onstage with this young actor. I'm telling you, his work ethic is unlike anything I've ever seen. I've never seen anyone who devotes every single second of their lives to perfecting a role.'"

And it turns out, Austin was so good that Baz at times found it difficult to tell whether the actor was actively playing the role, or just happened to be an incredibly similar to Elvis naturally.

Elvis Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, even voiced her approval. "Austin Butler chanelled and embodied my father's heart & soul beautifully," she tweeted after watching the movie twice. 

How much did Austin Butler get paid for playing Elvis?

Austin Butler hasn’t publicly revealed how much he was paid for the role, but according to Showbiz Galore, he earned $700,000 [£581,343] for playing Elvis.

In its June 2022 opening weekend, Elvis quickly reached box office success garnering over $30 million in domestic sales, so Austin is expected to make a hefty chunk from the film if ticket sales continue to increase. 

His net worth is currently estimated to be around $4million [£3.3million] according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Meanwhile, Austin’s co-star Tom Hanks is thought to have earnt a whopping $8million [£6.6million] for his role as Elvis’ manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

With his incredible likeness to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Austin Butler is related to Elvis Presley, but he is not related to Elvis in any way.

However, Austin has a lot in common with the real Elvis. They are both 6 foot tall and both taught themselves how to play guitar.

Tragically, they both also lost their mums at a young age. Austin revealed: “I’d been watching all these documentaries and learned a couple of days prior that Elvis’s mom had died when he was 23, the same as me.”

And it seems it was written in the stars that Austin should play Elvis. Austin revealed that shortly after starring on Broadway in The Iceman Cometh, he returned home to Los Angeles. He was driving with then-girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens when Presley’s Blue Christmas came on, and he began to sing along.

He said Vanessa told him that someday, he should play Elvis. And he soon learned that Baz Luhrmann was working on a script of Elvis’ life story.

“It felt like the stars were aligning,” Austin admitted. “I just said I’m going to dedicate everything I have to this.”

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How did they make Austin Butler look like Elvis?

Hair and makeup designer Shane Thomas used a combination of Austin's natural hair and wigs to capture Elvis’ signature locks and used prosthetics to subtly change Austin's facial structure to match Elvis’ over the decades by placing them on his cheekbones, chin, and jawline.

For his final scene on screen, Shane and the team incorporated fat prosthetics to match the Elvis’ last performance.

Shane told POPSUGAR: “Baz is incredibly visual and very specific in what he wanted, so our conversations were a lot about not replicating or impersonating anything, but rather to represent and respect.”

He also joked that director Baz has a thing about hair, adding: “Baz is very hair-obsessed. It has to be perfect, so he gives you the time to make it perfect. One of his famous quotes while we were filming was, 'The hair has spoken, so we can roll the cameras.’”

Austin has admitted that coming out of the Elvis role has been difficult. He said: "It's been a slow process. But you don't quite know what to do with yourself after two years of doing nothing else but trying to get inside the mind of another person."

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Robyn Morris
Entertainment writer - contributor

Robyn is a freelance celebrity journalist with ten years experience in the industry. While studying for a degree in Media and Cultural Studies at London College of Communication, she did internships at Now and Heat magazines. After graduating, she landed a job at Star magazine, where she worked her way up to features editor. She then worked at Future as Deputy Celebrity Content Director across Woman, Woman’s Own, Woman’s Weekly and Woman & Home magazines.