Austin Butler chokes while paying tribute to late mother in ‘SNL’ monologue

“Saturday Night Live’s” final show of the season started on a sweet note, as host Austin Butler fondly recalled watching the late-night comedy show with his late mother, Lori Anne Howell.

“I love my mom. Some of my favorite childhood memories were watching ‘SNL’ every week,” and even though he had this “crippling embarrassment,” he would do anything to make her laugh — including an impersonation of Gollum from “Lord of the Rings.”

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Being silly with her, he said, is “what broke me out of my shell” and inspired his drive to become an actor. Butler, who got his start as a child actor on both Nickelodeon and Disney Channel shows, played Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s hit biopic, “Elvis.”

“Now my mother is no longer with us, but I’ve been thinking about her a lot this week, imagining how proud she would be to have her son on this stage now,” Butler said stiflingly.

“Anytime you see me doing a funny voice or making a funny face, that’s for you mom,” he said.

Butler also joked that he grew up in Anaheim, California, hence “the southern accent” and said he always sounded like Elvis Presley.

“I want to raise something. There are people who say that since I’ve been playing Elvis, my voice has changed – it’s become deeper, more Elvis-esque,” he said. “But that’s not true, I’ve always sounded like that and I can prove it. Here is an excerpt from an interview I did 10 years ago.”

The show transitioned into an interview promoting “The Carrie Diaries” in a high-pitched voice.

“We have stopped testing,” he said.

Butler also said that despite last year’s holiday show nearly being canceled due to COVID, the show has developed a foolproof plan to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Butler also talked about being “weird” growing up homeschooled with his sister, Ashley, who was there to celebrate her birthday.

“A lot of people don’t know that I’ve been acting since I was a kid,” he said, “studying ‘Raging Bull’ or ‘Taxi Driver’.”

“Put the knife down, you’re scaring me, iCarly,” Butler said, his face deadpan.

Saturday Night Live stars Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong, Mikey Day, Heidi Gardner, Ego Nwodim, Bowen Yang, Chloe Fineman, Punkie Johnson, Andrew Dismukes, and Michael Che and Colin Jost as the hosts of Weekend Update. The cast also includes James Austin Johnson, Sarah Sherman, Marcello Hernandez, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow and Devon Walker as featured players. Kent Sublette, Alison Gates and Streeter Seidell serve as lead writers on the show, while Liz Patrick directs.

Earlier in the evening, NBC announced that the December 17 episode would be Strong’s last.

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