About two weeks ago, Austin Butler announced that he would finally be “getting rid” of the Southern drawl he adopted for his Oscar-nominated role as Elvis Presley in Baz Lurhmann’s Elvis. So when the actor appeared on the latest episode of First We Feast’s “Hot Ones,” the question on viewers’ minds was not whether his taste buds could handle some scorching hot wings but whether he had truly left his Elvis accent behind.
The answer is… he’s working on it. From this interview, it sounds like he’s lost a little bit of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Memphis twang. However, that husky baritone is still very present throughout the episode’s almost 30-minute runtime. It turns out Da’ Bomb hot sauce can’t instantly reset someone’s vocal cords.
To be fair, the Best Actor nominee didn’t specify when he was getting rid of the accent—hopefully, not before awards season ends—just that he would ditch it eventually. Butler might have also filmed this episode before he declared to the world, seemingly out of peer pressure, that he would stop this hilarious act of cultural appropriation. Or maybe this tone—the deepness, at least—is just the natural progression of his voice as a 31-year-old man. Either way, we support your journey, Austin!
Luckily for Butler, host Sean Evans didn’t probe him about the side effects of his Method acting. Although, the pair did geek out over different acting techniques in one of the more sophisticated conversations had on the fairly frivolous show. Anyone assuming Butler might be a self-serious snob when it comes to acting will be delighted to know he’s not a stickler for any one method.
“Most of the great actors that I’ve worked with—they’re pulling from so many different things,” said Butler. “It’s not like there’s just one technique or something. You kind of just work for you, you know?”
Evans also took The Carrie Diaries actor on a sentimental trip down memory lane between bites of chicken. Butler is notably from Anaheim, California (not the South), a prime location for his days as a hard-working child actor. Evans asked him about growing up between Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park. It’s hilarious watching him become dewy-eyed—probably because of the wings but who knows—as he remembers his time riding the Xcelator at Knott’s Berry Farm with his mom repeatedly while orchestral music plays in the background.
He also told Evans about his experience working on the 2018 Broadway production of The Iceman Cometh, which he acted in alongside Denzel Washington, that ultimately changed the trajectory of his career. (If anyone has a photo of Butler putting his hands on the curtain to “feel the audience’s energy” before each show, as he claimed was a ritual, I would appreciate it!) Notably, Washington recommended Butler to Luhrmann for the role of Presley. And he thanked him during his acceptance speech for Best Actor – Drama at last month’s Golden Globes.
So how does Butler handle the primary task of downing dangerously hot wings? Pretty well! Certainly better than his Best Actor competition Colin Farrell, who looked kept having to get up from his chair. Butler mostly giggles off the pain and sniffles compulsively like a bunny. His glass of oat milk is shockingly full by the time he gets to “the final dab.”
If you weren’t charmed enough by Butler’s humility and sense of calm throughout the episode, he ends it by discussing he and Presley’s shared love of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and even gives viewers a tutorial on how he makes his own. (Presley’s famous midnight sandwich order was a PB&J with bacon).
I was delighted to discover that Butler makes this PB&J the correct way, as in peanut butter on both slices of bread. “Don’t be bashful with the peanut butter,” he instructs. The most comical part of the episode is watching him paint slices of Wonderbread with a squeezable grape jelly, which he seems to have just discovered. Shots of him hilariously dissolve into one another as if this sandwich-making endeavor has taken three hours. (Honestly, I would wait that long.)
The episode, Butler’s 100th interview this awards cycle, was mostly a nice update on his compelling voice journey and more confirmation that he is, indeed, quite charming. By the end of it, I was convinced that he might be able to make this new guttural tone work, as it is kind of sexy. Just let the faux Southern-ness continue to fade.