Austin Butler on the fear of taking part in Elvis, letting go of the King and Priscilla Presley’s recommendation

‘I used to be so fascinated by this concept of: Who’s Elvis Presley when he’s alone in his room on the finish of the night time?’ star of Baz Luhrmann-directed biopic says

After two years taking part in one among rock ’n’ roll’s greatest icons, Elvis star Austin Butler is simply studying how one can chill out.

Till now, the Orange County, Calif., native was most likely greatest identified for enjoying Tex Watson in Quentin Tarantino’s As soon as Upon a Time … in Hollywood. When you’re a dad or mum with tweens, you may additionally acknowledge him from The Shannara Chronicles and The Carrie Diaries.

You are reading: Austin Butler on the fear of taking part in Elvis, letting go of the King and Priscilla Presley’s recommendation

However with Elvis in theatres now, the kinetic Baz Luhrmann-directed movie is reviving one of the vital timeless figures within the historical past of music to inform the King’s full life story. Together with that, the critically acclaimed function of Elvis Presley is thrusting Butler, 30, on to the most important stage of his life.

The method of letting go hasn’t been a simple one, he admits.

“Once I was within the second, taking part in the function, it actually was this mix of exhilaration and almost crippling terror,” Butler says in an interview in a downtown Toronto lodge. “It felt at occasions as if I used to be about to stroll throughout the Grand Canyon on a tightrope.”

To nab the function, Butler beat out well-known names like Harry Types, Miles Teller and Ansel Elgort, however the actor, who nonetheless speaks with a slight drawl paying homage to Presley, says he fully immersed himself within the half over the course of two years.

Elvis, which Luhrmann (The Nice Gatsby, Moulin Rouge!) co-writes, tells Presley’s life story by means of the eyes of his manipulative supervisor, Col. Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), who helped flip him into a world celebrity, however labored behind the scenes to take advantage of his success for his personal private acquire proper up till the singer’s loss of life in 1977 on the age of 42.

Parker narrates the story, giving his insights into the world of present enterprise throughout Elvis’ reign.

Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker and Austin Butler as Elvis in Warner Bros. Pictures’ Elvis.
Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker and Austin Butler as Elvis in Warner Bros. Photos’ Elvis.Photograph by Warner Bros.

“Elvis made lots of good choices and lots of dangerous choices,” Butler says softly. “He was advanced in the best way lots of human beings are, nevertheless it was magnified by the truth that no one had ever skilled that form of fame earlier than.”

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To play Presley, Butler watched hours of footage of the late singer to repeat his dance strikes and be capable of mimic his singing model. Largely, although, he wished to do proper by Elvis’ spouse Priscilla (performed within the movie by Olivia DeJonge), daughter Lisa Marie, his grandkids, “and all of the individuals world wide who love him.”

Austin Butler attends a recent screening of Elvis in Toronto.
Austin Butler attends a current screening of Elvis in Toronto.Photograph by Warner Bros.

“Proper after I bought the half, Baz and I went to Nashville and I used to be recording at RCA, which was Elvis’ previous studio. I believed I used to be going to be handled with child gloves and was going to get to file one line at a time singing Blue Suede Footwear or Heartbreak Lodge or Hound Canine,” Butler explains.

“As a substitute, the very first day, Baz stated, ‘Let’s get everybody out of the workplaces of RCA, seat them in chairs dealing with Austin and we’ll have them heckle him whereas he sings.’ It was like what you think about a nightmare to be,” Butler laughs.

“I used to be so terrified. However moments like that make it easier to get used to that feeling of concern. There’s a concern of humiliation, a concern of failure and the concern of letting him and his household down. However that strain pushes you.”

Sitting down to speak about it in a lodge suite overlooking College Ave., he says, is “remedy for me.”

“I’m glad I get to lastly discuss it,” Butler says, smiling.

Elvis is a larger-than-life persona. How do you hook up with one thing like that as an actor?

“To start with he felt so distant as a result of he’s a lot bigger than life. So I started absorbing every little thing. I learn each ebook on his life … I felt virtually like a detective having to hunt out the reality. However what I found was that there was a deep sensitivity and spirituality to him. He had so much happening in his thoughts, and people have been human issues I might hook up with. As soon as I began tapping into that, he felt like he was getting nearer and nearer and he began to return into this clear image. Then I began to really feel like I used to be searching of his eyes, and that was an incredible second for me as a result of I wasn’t having to suppose at that time.”

Austin Butler as Elvis Presley.
Austin Butler as Elvis Presley.Photograph by Warner Bros.

Was there one side of his persona you hope stays with the viewers after they watch the movie? He was a sophisticated man.

“You’re proper, he was a sophisticated man. He was adored and cherished, however lots of people additionally hated him. Think about being 21 years previous and having individuals going loopy for you. That excessive adoration on one aspect, after which you may have individuals saying you’re doing the satan’s work … It’s a conflicting factor. He was sophisticated from the second he got here out of his mom’s womb. However for me, I used to be so fascinated by this concept of: Who’s Elvis Presley when he’s alone in his room on the finish of the night time? These moments when he’s lastly within the quiet after all of the noise had died down.”

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What was essentially the most shocking factor you found in your two years dwelling as him?

“There have been various issues, however I feel what stood out essentially the most was placing the start of his life in context. That was the factor I knew the least about, traditionally. He was a twin. The primary human contact he had was within the womb and (his brother) Jesse got here out first and wasn’t alive. So his different half from the second he’s born is gone. His mom skilled essentially the most intense grief she’s ever felt and right here comes Elvis. So he was seen as a miracle from the second he was born. However that occasion shifted the remainder of his life.

Austin Butler as Elvis.
Austin Butler as Elvis.Photograph by Warner Bros.

“Then he grows up dust poor. He’s in one of many few white homes in a Black neighbourhood. You can not inform Elvis’ story with out the truth that we don’t have Elvis with out Black music and Black tradition. So you must put that in context. His motion, the best way he sang, the best way he dressed, it was all impressed by what he cherished as slightly child … So it’s about giving credit score the place credit score is due.

“Once we have been making the film, the Black Lives Matter motion was taking place … So I’m for individuals to see it and ask themselves, ‘What methods have we grown as a society?’ I noticed the selections he made that have been nice, moments that he spoke up by means of track, and different moments that he wasn’t the activist that say Marlon Brando was at the moment. It brings up lots of these questions that I feel are actually highly effective right now on the planet.”

I think about that getting the gig of Elvis is terrifying, however then you must play him as effectively, which is a complete different factor? How do you overcome that?

“There’s a deep, deep concern being concerned in one thing like this. So a few of that was simply throwing myself within the deep finish very early … I used to be terrified, however moments like that make it easier to get used to that feeling of concern. There’s a concern of humiliation, a concern of failure and the concern of letting him and his household down. However that strain pushes you. I didn’t sleep for 2 years — I didn’t do anything for 2 years (laughs). That obsession led to me by no means desirous to settle. I simply saved attempting to get deeper into him. So the fear ended up changing into like free power. I didn’t want espresso as a result of I’d get up at three within the morning and I couldn’t return to sleep. It’s a extremely sickening feeling, however then it’s accompanied by the honour of attending to reside as him for 2 years.”

Austin Butler as Elvis Presley.
Austin Butler as Elvis Presley.Photograph by Warner Bros.

“She stated only a few phrases the primary time I met her. It was extra what was unsaid. It was wanting in her eyes and understanding that these have been the eyes that he regarded into and understanding that that is the mom of his solely little one. She instructed me, ‘You’ve got massive footwear to fill, however you may have lots of assist.’ ”

Elvis star Austin Butler and Priscilla Presley attend The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating the opening of the “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” exhibition on Monday, May 2, 2022, in New York.
Elvis star Austin Butler and Priscilla Presley attend The Metropolitan Museum of Artwork’s Costume Institute profit gala celebrating the opening of the “In America: An Anthology of Style” exhibition on Monday, Might 2, 2022, in New York.Photograph by Evan Agostini /Related Press

So how do you shake Elvis after two years of dwelling as him?

“To start with, you cross the end line and so they say, ‘That’s a wrap.’ However I didn’t know what to do with myself. I actually collapsed and I hadn’t centered on something in my life as Austin. I hadn’t centered on the issues that I like as a result of I used to be all the time centered on issues Elvis cherished, and his desires and his passions and his fears. It’s all by means of the lens of him. However then you definitely get accomplished and instantly your life comes flooding again and instantly it’s a shedding course of. It took some time to let go. I needed to discover hobbies and be out in nature and take time to faucet again into what was my actuality.”

Elvis is in theatres now

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