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Live performance by Elvis Presley leaves Austin Butler in tears

Austin Butler wowed moviegoers over the summer with his performance in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic Elvis. The American star did extensive research on the King of Rock and Roll, but one profound moment still stands out more than anything for him. However, oddly enough, these are not images from when Elvis was in his prime. Instead, he showed the King at his lowest point.

During Elvis’ later years, he played almost every night at the Las Vegas International Hotel to sold-out crowds. He stayed there for almost seven years, but it wasn’t in a good way.

Elvis got out of shape when he was in his early 40s. He gained a lot of weight and was reportedly dependent on prescription drugs and alcohol to get him through each day and performance. Even so, he would go on stage every night and sing to the best of his ability. One of these cases still leaves Butler in tears.

Speaking in a new interview, Butler recalled tracking down every Elvis video he could find on YouTube. Eventually, he stumbled across the star’s rendition of Unchained Melody, a 1955 song originally written by Alex North and Hy Zaret.

In the 1976 video clip, which can be seen below, Elvis told the audience: “This is a song I just recorded, it’s an old song, it’s called Unchained Melody. I don’t know all the chords, so if you listen getting my fingers caught in the keys… it is what it is.”

Clearly nervous, Elvis pounded the track with enthusiasm, before finally hitting the song’s extremely high final note.

Butler noted how, just a year before the King’s death, Elvis was out of breath and struggling to reach his full potential. But when he hit that high note, he played it perfectly. And he knew it.

After the song ended, Elvis slyly smiled at the audience, as if to say, “I’ve still got it!”

This moment, Butler confessed, brings the actor to tears every time. The moment is made even more powerful when you realize that Elvis would be dead within the next 12 months.

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Butler has always felt extremely connected to Elvis. After spending the better part of a year impersonating him, he’s even come out permanently sounding like the King with his southern drawl.

He also saw many connections between him and the King. Butler’s mother recently died after a battle with cancer when he was 23 years old. The same age that Elvis was when he lost his mother, the woman in his life that he adored.

One night, after a nightmare about his mother’s death, Butler pulled himself together using Elvis’s art. “It was that thing where I knew this could turn into a really bad day, you know?” He said. “Where you start out in deep pain. And I thought there had to be a way to channel this feeling. And I was so obsessed with Elvis that it became this other thing of saying, ‘It’s okay. He felt pain. How did he do it?’ Will he take care of it? Well, he would sing. He would pour his soul into song.”

Butler recalled putting on a bathrobe, setting up a camera, sitting at his piano, and singing Unchained Melody with as much emotion as he could, directed at his mother. He sent this videotape to Luhrmann, and the rest is history.

Even Elvis’s nearest and dearest praised the young star’s performance.

Priscilla Presley, Elvis’ ex-wife, later commented on how incredible the star’s portrayal of the King was. She said: “It was very emotional… Just because he got Elvis to the top, I mean, the top. It’s amazing what this kid, Austin Butler, did. He spent two years studying Elvis, so it was like a surprise to see.”

Elvis’s daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, agreed. She told her Instagram followers: “It’s almost like he channeled it. He put everything he had, his heart, his soul, everything he had into researching, reading, watching, learning. He honored him in every way possible “.

Elvis is now available for digital download.

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