Austin Butler praises ex-girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens for manifesting his career-defining Elvis Presley portrayal… before the Baz Luhrmann biopic was even announced.
The actor, 31 – who is up for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for playing “The King” – originally told THR it was a “friend” who had encouraged him to pursue the role.
Butler received backlash for seemingly downplaying his nearly nine-year relationship with Hudgens.
But now, in a new interview with the LA Times, he confirmed that the “boyfriend” was in fact the actress/singer, 34.
Manifestation: Austin Butler credits ex-girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens for manifesting his career-defining Elvis Presley portrayal… before Baz Luhrmann’s biopic was even announced; seen in 2019
The actor, 31 – who is up for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for playing ‘The King’ – originally told THR it was a ‘friend’ who encouraged him to pursue the role; seen in Elvis (2022)
‘That’s right. I was with my partner at the time,” Butler replied after the outlet asked him for clarification.
‘[Hudgens and I had] been together for so long, she had these psychic moments like this and so I really owe her a lot for believing in me,” he said.
Butler, who has since won the Golden Globe for Best Actor for the role, recalled the moment Hudgens told THR earlier this month to “play Elvis.”
But he didn’t call the High School Musical alum by name, nor did he call her his ex-girlfriend.
“The month before I heard that Baz [Luhrmann] was making the movie, I was watching Christmas lights and there was an Elvis Christmas carol on the radio and I was with a friend of mine,” he said.
It was her: But now, in a new interview with the LA Times, he confirmed that the “boyfriend” was in fact the actress/singer, 34; seen in July 2019
“I sang along and my friend looked at me and said, ‘You have to play Elvis.’ I said, “Oh, that’s such an opportunity.”
“A few weeks later I was playing the piano,” he continued. “I never really sang to any of my friends or anything like that. That same friend was there and I was playing the piano.
She said, ‘I’m serious. You have to figure out how to get the rights to a script.’ Then my agent called and said, “So Baz Luhrmann is making an Elvis movie.”
Shortly after the interview was posted on Jan. 10, many took to Twitter to label him “disgusting” and “disrespectful” for leaving her out.
‘[Hudgens and I had] been together for so long, she had these clairvoyant moments like this and so I really owe her a lot for believing in me,” he said; seen in 2019
Winner: He has since won the Golden Globe for Best Actor for the role and is in the running for an Academy Award; seen in January 2023
In 2019, Hudgens famously shared the exact same story during an appearance on Live with Kelly and Ryan.
Hudgens, who was dating Butler at the time, recalled, “Last December we were driving by and listening to Christmas music, and then an Elvis Presley Christmas carol came on.”
“He had just dyed his hair dark. He’s naturally blonde, and I was looking at him and he was singing along and I was like, ‘Babe, you have to play Elvis.'”
“Then he was at the piano in January,” she continued.
And he’s playing and he’s singing and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how, but you have to figure out how to play Elvis. For example, I don’t know how we get rights or what we do, but you have to play him.”
Reminder: Butler recalled the moment Hudgens told him to THR earlier this month “you have to play Elvis.” But he didn’t call the High School Musical alum by name or call her his ex-girlfriend; seen in Elvis (2022)
Backlash: Shortly after the interview was posted on Jan. 10, many took to Twitter to label him “disgusting” and “disrespectful” for leaving her out of his story
Butler landed the role in July 2019 alongside Tom Hanks, who played Elvis’ infamous manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
Filming began on January 28, 2020 in Australia, but would come to an abrupt halt just two months later after Hollywood shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The shoot resumed in Queensland in September 2020 and concluded in March 2021. Elvis was released in June 2022.
While highly praised for his portrayal, Butler was equally derided for sticking to Elvis’ fat Memphis mark despite being a California native.
Recently, Hudgens appeared to be throwing shade at her ex for his dramatic voice change after she responded to a post about whether his accent was “real,” joking, “He went to Lady Gaga school for Oscar campaign acting.”
Roast: Vanessa Hudgens appeared to be throwing shade at her ex-boyfriend after he was relentlessly mocked for keeping his Elvis accent for Baz Luhrmann’s biopic
Public Shadow: Fans were quick to catch this sly comment from Vanessa, which implied she was ‘crying’ laughing at the joke
Fans quickly noticed Hudgens replying underneath that she was “crying,” perceived as crying with laughter at the jibe.
The post came from social media influencer Ryan Scott, who has nearly 40,000 followers on Instagram.
The joke is a reference to the exaggerated length Lady Gaga went on to campaign for an Oscar nomination for her role in House of Gucci, which didn’t sit well with the pop singer.
His caption refers to how the A Star is Born actress became notorious for her substandard Italian accent when she played Patrizia Reggiani.
At the time, a dialect coach who worked on the film with her costar Salma Hayek noted that New York-raised Gaga’s accent sounded “more Russian.”
His defense: Austin has said multiple times that the accent is “in his DNA” after working on the acclaimed film for two to three years
Star-studded: Butler landed the role in July 2019 alongside Tom Hanks, who played Elvis’ infamous manager, Colonel Tom Parker; (L-R) Austin Butler, Helen Thomson, Tom Hanks and Richard Roxburgh in Elvis (2022)
And like Butler, Gaga — real name Stefani Germanotta — insisted in a British Vogue profile that she “lived like [Reggiani] for a year and a half. And for nine months I spoke with an accent.’
In Butler’s defense shortly after his Golden Globe win, his voice coach Iren Bartlett said, “What you saw in that Golden Globes speech, that’s him.” It’s real, it’s not put on.’
“I’m sorry people say that, you know, it’s still acting [but] he is actually busy [the voice of Presley] on board,” she said, adding that the change could be permanent: “I don’t know how long that will last, or if it will be there forever.”
Fans have been confused about the voice change since filming for Elvis wrapped nearly two years ago.
Irene went on to explain why Austin still sounds like he did in the movie, “Because of COVID shutdowns, he was working on it all the time and it’s hard to take out something that you’ve put so much thought into. [and] time up.’
Moving on: Since their split, both Vanessa and Austin have gotten into new long-term relationships