Austin Butler: ‘Elvis never got to tour the world, he really wanted to’

Austin Butler is 30 years old. Did you know that? He actually turns 31 this summer (he’s a Leo, like so many celebrities). Austin seems a lot younger than that, and it’s not just his baby face or his time as a child/teenage star. As I read through Austin’s British GQ interview, the journalist had to keep reminding the reader that Austin is already 30. It’s genuinely because his whole energy is that of a very young man. Even the way he talks about work, his professional goals, his mentors… he comes across not as immature, but just… unfinished, youthful. Austin covers British GQ because he’s the star of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. He plays Elvis Presley. While he sort of looks the part… I’m still not sure about any of this. Some highlights from the GQ interview:

He grew up in Orange County & lives in LA: “LA can be a coal mining town. You know, where everybody works in the coal mine. Everybody talks about the coal mine.”

He made the pilgrimage to Graceland to meet Priscilla: Priscilla embraced him and told him he had a lot of support. “She looked like an angel,” Butler says. “I walked down the hall with Baz afterwards with tears in my eyes.” Beyond all the technical preparation, he sought out other things that would allow him to access this larger-than-life figure on a personal level. “His mother passed away when he was 23, and my mum passed away when I was 23,” Butler says. “So when I learned that, it was one of those things where I got chills, and I just thought, Okay, I can connect to that.”

He asked Tom Hanks for advice: Hanks had a simple tip, Butler recalls: “ ‘Every day I try to read something that has nothing to do with the job that I’m doing.’ ” This advice was a relief. “That gave me permission, because up ’til that point, I was only reading everything to do with Elvis. I was only listening to Elvis. It was Elvis’s influences and Elvis himself and nothing else.”

Elvis never went on a world tour: “The sad bit about it is that Elvis never got to tour the world. That is a thing that I think a lot of people don’t quite realise. And that was a big thing that he really wanted to do.”

When he wrapped on ‘Elvis’: “The next day I woke up at four in the morning with excruciating pain, and I was rushed to hospital,” Butler says. He was diagnosed with a virus that simulates appendicitis and spent a week bedridden. “My body just started shutting down the day after I finished Elvis.”

On Denzel Washington praising him to directors: “I was so grateful for that. He didn’t call me beforehand, he didn’t call me after. It was this generous thing that he just did.”

His relationship with Kaia Gerber: “I go, ‘If I don’t see the picture, then it doesn’t really exist to me.’ I don’t want to be really negative, but there’s hardly any job I despise more than paparazzi.” He is similarly positive when I try to get him to open up about his relationship with Gerber. “I don’t think there’s anything I want to share about that. But thank you for providing the space.”

[From British GQ]

He ended up talking a lot about Denzel – they worked together on Broadway, in The Iceman Cometh. Austin went out of his way to try to impress Denzel with his work ethic, all while trying not to act overly familiar with his idol. Denzel finally noticed him and took Austin under his wing and mentored him as an actor and gave him career advice. Denzel really is the Godfather, right? He’s not just the church elder, he’s helping white guys too. Anyway, the impression I now have of Austin is that he is a very hard worker, he takes his job very seriously, he actively seeks out the mentorship of older actors and he’s surprisingly buttoned-up. I wonder if that’s how he really is.

Cover & IG courtesy of British GQ.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

13 Responses to “Austin Butler: ‘Elvis never got to tour the world, he really wanted to’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. mel says:

    Anyone else just not into him or this whole forced Elvis movie? Just seems like the world is not really in this gear.

    • Colby says:

      I’m excited for it. While I love super hero movies, I’m a bit burnt out on them. I have a feeling this will achieve the same spectacle and escapism.

    • North of Boston says:

      Mel, I’m right there with you.

  2. TIFFANY says:

    Austin knows who he needs to act right around.

    It is really no different than how me act in our jobs.

  3. Colby says:

    No doubt his professionalism comes from not being *famous* famous until later in life. I will always believe that being famous early is awful for a person – it warps their brain.

    For example, I really like this answer: “ I don’t think there’s anything I want to share about that. But thank you for providing the space.”

    I hate it when entertainers are mean or disrespectful to reporters. Like they’re just doing their job, and by the way, it’s your job to talk to them. This was a nice way to say thanks but no thanks.

  4. Myriam says:

    Something about him seems too try-hard. Like he’s trying hard to show he’s so serious and you better take him seriously goddamit! I’m getting major Miles Teller during Whiplash promo vibes. It could be the age factor. I Don’t know.

  5. Honey says:

    As I understand, Elvis indeed wanted to tour beyond the USA, but his manager (and seeming controller), Colonel Parker, was a Dutch citizen (undocumented) and could probably travel to another country, but as he was living in the States with no legal status of residency, wouldn’t have been able to re-enter. He would have never let Elvis tour or film without his presence. Hence, Elvis’s Hawaii-themed movies — their version of the most exotic US locale.

  6. Sumodo1 says:

    People my age (65) remember everything about Elvis. Heck, he died on my 21st birthday and the newsroom I worked at, in Providence, RI went into overdrive. Elvis had recently played Providence. It was Colonel Tom Parker’s (phony idiot!) problem with the authorities in Europe. This movie might tank hard because people my age no longer want the hassles of going to a movie theatre.

  7. jferber says:

    Poor Elvis. He really died of a drug overdose, administered by the Memphis Mafia, not a heart attack. He reminds me of Anna Nicole Smith in her last days. Very very sad. In the first pic I find this actor hot, but not in the second. I wouldn’t see it.

    • Julia K says:

      @jferber: gossip going around at the time was he had severe and chronic constipation caused by polypharmacy, and he died as a result of vaso -vagal reaction while straining to pass #2, so not technically a heart attack I guess.

  8. jferber says:

    Julia K, I heard that Elvis’ cause of death was prevented from being released for decades. I had thought he was being sedated, much like Anna Nicole was. I had not heard what you did about his death. I’m going to look up “vaso vagal reaction” because I really don’t know what that is. 42 is too damn young to die, that’s for sure.

  9. jferber says:

    I just looked it up and the question if it can kill you is answered by “if you are driving a car or fall accidentally” while having this reaction. I’m not a doctor, but it sounds to me that that the vasovagal reaction wouldn’t have killed him. However he died, I still maintain that the Memphis Mafia were somehow involved.