I don’t know about you, but I have spent many months fretting over whether Austin Butler’s voice will ever recover from playing Elvis Presley. As you may recall, Butler dedicated himself so intensely to mimicking The King for a 2022 biopic that he either couldn’t or wouldn’t stop talking like his character long after the film’s production cycle, release, and awards-circuit run had ended. In fact, last we heard, Butler was facing down the specter of speaking with Presley’s distinct timbre for all eternity. The only narrative suggesting otherwise came from Butler’s Dune 2 co-star Dave Bautista, who claimed in February that Butler’s voice in the upcoming sand sequel was “different” — “not Austin Butler” but also “not Elvis.” Who, then? Whose distinctive vocal cords are haunting Butler now?
A much-needed answer comes via Timothée Chalamet, who is also in Dune 2 and who tells GQ that during a Zoom cast reading early on in the filming schedule, he was flabbergasted to find that Butler was talking not like Elvis but “like Stellan Skarsgård.”
A little context: In the movie, an extremely bald Butler plays the nephew and heir of Skarsgård’s (also bald) villain from the first Dune. To prepare, he evidently put his entire heart and voice box into sounding like one of the Mamma Mia! dads. In Chalamet’s telling, Butler’s stunning transformation rattled some of his co-stars, but not Timmy. “I can’t overstate how inspiring it was to me personally,” he told GQ.
Maybe too inspiring. As nice as it is to hear that Butler is finally free of Elvis’s bejeweled grip, it comes with some bad news: Chalamet claims to have been so impressed with the way Butler “committed” to his Elvis role that he has hired the same team of voice and dialect coaches to help him perfect his Bob Dylan impersonation for his forthcoming biopic. Dylan’s voice, even before he allegedly destroyed it with cigarettes and acid reflux, has been described (by Joyce Carol Oates, no less) as “raw” and “frankly nasal,” like “if sandpaper could sing.” Imagine cursing our beautiful boy with such an abrasive sound. Please, be careful, Timmy!