Strength coach Ryan Gambin shares the work Butler put in to bring Elvis’ snake hips to the big screen
It wouldn’t surprise us if Austin Butler takes home a best actor Oscar this weekend for his portrayal of Elvis in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic of the rock and roll icon. But while a lot has been made of how the actor got his voice ready for the role, don’t let anyone fool you into thinking getting Elvis’ baritone down was all the prep work he did.
In an interview with
The Courier Mail, Butler’s strength and conditioning coach, former Olympic swimmer Ryan Gambin, revealed the strength work the actor put in to portray the ‘King of Rock and Roll’. As you’d expect, Butler’s Elvis workouts were dominated by hip movements.
‘He really takes his job seriously and obviously Elvis has a lot to do with his hip movement, so we were doing a lot of hip-dominant exercises,’ Gambin revealed. ‘We didn’t have any strength goals … but we pretty much focused everything around his hips.’
In contrast to many blockbusters today, Butler and Gambin actually had to be careful that the Hollywood actor wasn’t getting too big during his prep work, with the coach sharing how Luhrmann requested they stop working on Butler’s arms because they were getting too big.
‘His T-shirts were sitting a little tighter on Austin’s arms than they were on Elvis’s arms,’ said Gambin.
As for whether Austin’s Elvis voice, which the actor says is now part of his DNA, is here to stay or not, Gambin has his own opinion.
‘When we train he has little quirks now,’ said Gambin. ‘If we are doing a hard set of squats or something, halfway through the set he’ll be like, “Oh baby”, in an Elvis voice – and he doesn’t even know he does it.’
Butler’s next role will be playing ‘sci-fi son-of-a-bitch’, Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part II. The actor said he worked out for four months to get ready for the part, adding that his strength work was ‘just to get my body into a place where I can be a physically imposing presence.’
Daniel is Men’s Health UK’s deputy digital editor. He’s a writer and editor with a decade’s worth of experience covering health, fitness, tech and sports. In his time at Men’s Health, he’s written about everything from Black men’s mental health to The Rock’s cheat days and has logged training time with NFL footballers, Olympic gymnasts and the British Army. In his spare time he enjoys fitness of all kinds, from deadlifts to long runs, and is always on the lookout for his next challenge.
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