Vanessa Hudgens Shades Austin Butler's Elvis Accent With One Word
Austin Butler’s transformation into the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic has already netted awards and early Oscar buzz. But it seems like there’s one aspect of Elvis Presley Butler just can’t shake: his voice. And fans couldn’t help but be confused by the continued, err, emulation. It seems like his ex-girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens also has thoughts on the buzzy phenomenon.
The Shannara Chronicles star famously spent three years trying to imitate Presley’s distinct voice. “[Elvis] got woven into the fiber of my being in a way, and it feels like a great gift to me that I have little bits of him in my DNA now,” Butler told IndieWire last December. He doubled down on the sentiment backstage at the 2023 Golden Globes. “I often liken it to when somebody lives in another country for a long time,” he said, after winning the Best Actor award. Though Butler insists he no longer sounds like the “Can’t Help Falling In Love” singer, he concedes, “I’m sure there’s just pieces of my DNA that will always be linked in that way.”
Hudgens, it seems, finds the whole ordeal funny. On Jan. 19, Instagram user @ryinskott reposted a Page Six headline about Butler: “Austin Butler’s ‘Elvis’ accent is ‘genuine,’ might remain ‘forever’: voice coach.” Scott captioned the post, “He went to the Lady Gaga school of Oscar campaign acting.” In the comments section, Hudgens couldn’t keep from reacting. “Crying,” she replied. And she would know how much Butler’s voice actually changed — she dated him for over eight years.
In fact, it seems like it was Hudgens who gave Butler the idea to play Presley in the first place. On The Hollywood Reporter's Actors Roundtable on Jan. 10, Butler revealed that a “friend” gave him the idea to play Presley.
“The month before I heard that Baz was making the movie, I was looking at Christmas lights and there was an Elvis Christmas song on the radio and I was with a friend of mine,” he began. “I was singing along and my friend looked over at me and said, ‘You gotta play Elvis.’ I said, ‘Oh, that's such a long shot.’”
He added, “A couple of weeks later, I was playing the piano. I never really sang for any of my friends or anything. That same friend was there and I was playing the piano. She said, ‘I’m serious. You gotta figure out how you can get the rights to a script.’ Then my agent called and said, ‘So Baz Luhrmann is making an Elvis film.’”
Fans were quick to point out that the unnamed “friend” was actually Hudgens since she had already told the exact same story in a prior interview. In an August 2019 appearance on Live with Kelly and Ryan, Hudgens said, “Last December, we were driving along and we were listening to Christmas music, and then an Elvis Presley Christmas song came on. He had just dyed his hair dark. He’s a natural blond, and I was looking at him and he was singing along and I was like, ‘Babe, you need to play Elvis.’”
Gushing about her good-looking then-boyfriend to host Ryan Seacrest, she also recounted the piano story, saying, “Then in January, he was sitting at the piano and he’s playing and he’s singing and I'm like, ‘I don't know how, but you need to figure out how you can play Elvis. Like, I don't know how we get rights or what we do, but you need to play him.’”
Though Butler is now dating Kaia Gerber some of Hudgens’ fans were upset by Butler appearing to downplay the relationship in interviews.