‘Elvis’ Star Austin Butler Speaks on Tuning Out All the ‘Caricatures’ of the Music Icon

by Taylor Cunningham

There are plenty of stereotypes out there that depict Elvis Presley. And when Austin Butler signed on to play the singer in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming biopic, he immediately set out to erase those ideas from his head and find out who The King of Rock truly was at his core.

In the movie, Butler plays the younger version of Elvis. The story focuses on the icon’s rise to fame and his difficult relationship with the music manager, Col. Tom Parker, who both helped him climb the charts and held him back in his career.

In the end, Elvis went through many transformations, most of which were simply stage personas. And the pop-culture images created an idea of the singer that was hardly who Elvis was when he walked away from the crowds.

So when Austin Butler earned the chance to play the Hound Dog crooner on the silver screen, he was determined to bring justice to the real Elvis Presley, paying special attention to who he was before he exploded to stardom.

During an interview with the Associated Press, Butler sat down and explained how he prepared for his role.

“I looked at the idol that is Elvis and the legend and the superhero and that short of god-like figure of him,” he shared. “And then you see on the other side. You have the guys in Vegas who are marrying people as Elvis and this whole caricature that is this idea of him. And my thing was just stripping all of that away and getting to fundamental human things that he, that were deep inside of him.”

Austin Butler Lived and Breathed Elvis While Preparing For His Role

During Austin Butler’s deep-diving character study, the 30-year-old actor read every book written about Elvis. He also watched hours of documentaries and every “bit of footage and interview” available. And while doing that he “just started to find the truths.”

In another chat with ET, Butler also shared that meeting the Presely family helped fuel his performance—that Lisa Marie said was “FINALLY done accurately and respectfully.”

In the end, learning more about The King made Bulter gain even more respect for the singer. And playing the part was both a gratifying and intimidating endeavor.

“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,” he continued. “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?”