A few years ago, American actor Austin Butler was a teen idol, melting hearts around the world in Carrie’s notebooks.
This week, the dazzling, cherubic 30-year-old Californian with flawless skin came of age, starring in “bubbly, delirious, playfully energetic, compulsively observable… fever dream” Elvis.
Next year, no doubt, the talented guitarist and pianist who grew up in Anaheim (near Disneyland), will walk a different kind of red carpet… in downtown Hollywood on March 12 for the 95th Oscars…en route to receiving an Oscar for Best Actor in a Musical.
It’s far, but its “haunting depiction” of the rock and roll legend made him a favorite.
“Austin Butler beautifully channeled and embodied my father’s heart and soul…in my humble opinion, his performance is unparalleled and ultimately delivered with precision and respect,” Elvis said. his daughter Lisa Marie Presley wrote on Instagram.
“If he doesn’t get an Oscar for this, I’ll eat my own foot.”
During Butler’s Sydney press tour, the actor revealed he and Luhrmann met Elvis’ ex-wife Priscilla, 77, before production began.
Butler said two of his comments escaped him: that he had “big shoes to fill” and that he had “a lot of support.”
“There were all these sorts of things left unsaid [during the meeting]”, said Butler She magazine in an interview about the reunion.
“It was to look into Priscilla’s eyes and see this woman that Elvis fell in love with so many years ago, and she was madly in love with him and still loves him to this day. She knew him better than anyone.
After Luhrmann provided an advanced screening of the film for Priscilla and her longtime Elvis colleague, Jerry Schilling, in April, the king’s ex-wife had nothing but praise for Butler’s performance.
“Austin Butler, who played Elvis, is outstanding. Halfway through the movie, Jerry and I looked at each other and said WOW!!! Kudos to him…he knew he had big shoes to fill. He was extremely nervous playing this role. I can only imagine,” Priscilla wrote on Facebook.
“This story is about the relationship between Elvis and Colonel Parker. It’s a true story told with brilliance and creativity that only Baz, in his unique artistic way, could have delivered.
First in Melbourne
Luhrmann’s wife, Catherine Martin, 57, was the film’s producer, set designer and costume designer.
Speaking to the audience ahead of the film’s Melbourne premiere at Crown Casino on Tuesday night, she said Butler captured the essence of someone who was “a historic figure for his humanity”.
“It was an incredible joy to watch Austin create such a dynamic portrayal of Elvis,” she said.
And the public accepted.
Mesmerized, they watched Luhrmann weave his Moulin Rouge cinematic magic and take Butler’s Elvis from a young, impressionable voyeur in overalls, writhing inside a tent-housed Black Gospel church, to a Hollywood star and Las Vegas legend.
Told by Tom Hanks’ Dutch puppeteer Colonel Tom Parker, who was Elvis’ manager, and interwoven with a complex array of storyboards and newspaper headlines from the 1950s until Elvis’ death in 1977, the film takes off on the back of Butler’s impressive performance. .
“I couldn’t take my eyes off Austin Butler. I felt like one of the screaming girls in the movie,” said an audience member, who had arrived early with free popcorn and champagne.
Another echoed the sentiments of many when the lights came on after two and a half hours of cinema: “Elvis is an incredible film, although sadder than initially expected. Butler’s performance is remarkable.
And this, from a fan who wore a black velvet tuxedo to the opening night: “Austin Butler was awesome – he moved and talked like Elvis and brought a welcome intensity to the movie.”
How Butler was cast and how he groomed himself as a ‘detective’
It’s far from the first time a Hollywood star has been asked to step into the shoes of a towering cultural figure – think Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in spencerTaron Edgerton as Elton John in Rocketmanor Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in walk the line, to name a few.
They all prepare differently.
In an April cover for vogueButler recounts the moment he knew what to put in his audition tape when he heard Luhrmann was working on a script.
Butler’s mother died when he was 23 – the same age Elvis lost his mother Gladys (played by Helen Thomson) – but one day he woke up from a nightmare thinking his mother was still alive, but dying.
“It was so fresh and painful,” Butler said.
“I thought he probably had nights when he woke up from nightmares like this. So what can I do with that?
In a dressing gown, he goes to the piano and “has just started playing the violin”.
“I trained Unleashed Melody for a while, but I had always sung it to a lover,” Butler said.
“That night, I sang it to my mother. I wasn’t trying to look and sound like Elvis.
“I wasn’t trying to do anything but take that emotion and pour it into the song.”
Luhrmann received the tape and was devastated: “What I heard vocally, and more importantly, what I saw emotionally, was something that just couldn’t be ignored”.
“From the moment I met Austin, he carried something of Elvis with him. He had a hint of swagger, a touch of his.
Just days before filming began on the Gold Coast in March 2020, COVID-19 hit. Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson tested positive and eventually returned home to the United States before filming resumed later that year.
Butler stayed behind.
He got an ocean view apartment on the Gold Coast for three months and immersed himself in the world of Elvis, becoming a ‘sponge’ and creating walls of pictures and stories, using string to connect the puzzle that was the life of Elvis.
“He was the American dream,” Butler says, in a recent video interview released Tuesday by Warner Bros.
“I started off as just a sponge, reading every book I could get my hands on, looking at every picture I could find. Treating it like a detective.
Luhrmann adds in the same clip, “It’s an amazing thing, but it’s also problematic when it comes to exploring your life. Elvis said it’s very difficult to live up to an image… And Austin embarked on an extraordinary three-year journey to discover the human being.
Tom Hanks, 65, who won Oscars for his starring roles in philadelphia cream (1994) and Forrest Gump (1995), said he couldn’t take his eyes off Butler.
“No matter the stage – he’s on stage, performing, singing, full, full, near-the-top dedication was impressive from the get-go.”
So what’s next for the rising star?
Some might say it took Butler 17 years to become an overnight star.
He started with appearances in Disney and Nickelodeon teen TV series and had roles in family adventure films such as Aliens in the attic (2010) and Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure (2010).
Then came the ABC Family series Switched at birth and Carrie’s notebooks and stage productions, before a small role in Quentin Tarantino’s film Once upon a time in Hollywood (2019), as a fictionalized version of infamous Manson family member Tex Watson.
That same month, Luhrmann closed the deal with him on Elvis.
According IMDbButler is filming a TV miniseries masters of the air and was cast in the 2023 blockbuster Dune: part twowhich is in pre-production.
Elvis will premiere at the Sydney Film Festival on June 15 and 17 and will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros and will be released in Australian cinemas on June 23
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