When Austin Butler learned he was a strong contender to play the iconic lead in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, he dropped everything to prepare himself to wow the casting directors. And in the end, Butler earned such high props that Luhrmann went on the record saying that Butler was “born” to play the King of Rock.
To get into the skin of Elvis, Butler went full throttle. During an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight, he admitted that he decided to drop everything else going on in his life and “allow” himself to “obsess.”
First, the actor mailed Luhrmann a tape of himself singing Unchained Melody in January 2020, long before auditions even began. And once that put him on the radar, he began the real work.
“So I just started reading and watching everything I could on his life and on his friends and on his relationships and listened to only his music,” he shared.
Austin Butler took the approach as though he “already had the” role. And in doing so, he beat out other major stars like Harry Styles. He also received the highest praise from The King’s family, including Lisa Marie Presley, who broke a social media hiatus just to tell fans that “Austin Butler channeled and embodied my father’s heart and soul beautifully.”
Austin Butler Felt Like ‘a Kid in their Dad’s Suit’ While Playing Elvis
But pulling off the part with such ease didn’t stop with a flawless audition. Throughout the entire process, Austin Butler continued learning about Elvis. And not only did he do that with his own studying, but also by learning about the singer from the people who knew him best.
And as he went through the transformation from 30-year-old former Nickelodeon star to perhaps the most iconic musician in history, Austin Butler felt a bit intimidated in his own figurative skin.
“So many people have paid tribute to that one person and it’s hard not to feel like a little kid in their dad’s suit—like you’re wearing really big shoes that you can hardly walk in. He was such an extraordinary human being that he almost seems superhuman—larger than life itself,” the actor said. “That’s something I’ve had so many people help me with over this process has been that thing, how do you climb Mount Everest but just one step at a time?”
“He was the American dream, really,” Butler said of his temporary alter ego, Elvis.
Elvis hits theaters worldwide on June 24.