Austin Butler says it was worth not seeing his family for 3 years while filming Elvis

A month ago, we talked about Austin Butler’s admission to Janelle Monae in Variety that he didn’t see his family for three years while he was filming Elvis. Many people, myself included, seemed to agree that this is just another example of too much method and unnecessary suffering in the name of ~art. Anyway, Entertainment Tonight asked him about it on camera when he attended the Palm Springs International Film Awards. And wouldn’t you know, Austin thinks it was worth it to go that long without seeing his family.

If you’re a fan of Austin Butler, you’re likely aware of just how dedicated he was to perfecting his titular role in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis.

Austin put on a phenomenal performance in the renowned biopic, which was released last summer.

However, fans were particularly surprised to learn that Austin actually didn’t see his family for three years while he prepped for and filmed the movie, and had months where he “wouldn’t talk to anybody” at all.

“During Elvis, I didn’t see my family for about three years,” he solemnly told fellow actor Janelle Monáe for Variety’s Actors on Actors series last month.

“I was off in New York prepping with Baz, and then I went to Australia. I had months where I wouldn’t talk to anybody,” he went on. “When I did, the only thing I was ever thinking about was Elvis.”

Many fans were left shocked by Austin’s revelation and wound up discussing just how seriously some Hollywood actors take method acting as a process.

But in spite of all the uproar, Austin has now revealed that his choice to distance himself from his family was 100% worth it.

On Thursday, Austin stepped out at the 34th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala, where he was questioned about his astounding performance in Elvis, for which he is nominated for Best Performance in the Drama category in the upcoming Golden Globes.

And it wasn’t long before the subject of how “dedicated” Austin was to his performance was brought up during a conversation with Entertainment Tonight.

“I know you had said that because you were so dedicated to this role, you really didn’t see your family for like three years,” an interviewer told Austin. “So, standing here tonight, where you’re being recognized by the Palm Springs Festival — does it feel like that was all worth it?”

Austin quickly confirmed that it was indeed worth it, before gushing about how “supportive” his family is.

“Yeah,” he said. “I mean, my family’s so supportive. They’re just amazing.”

[From Buzzfeed News]

There was some speculation that he literally couldn’t come back from Australia to see them, but “speaking with British GQ back in May, the actor revealed that after refusing to be flown back to LA from Australia when COVID-19 protocols hindered the film’s production.” So no, he actually chose not to see them. And chose not to talk to them for months. And it was worth it, and it’s okay because they’re so supportive and amazing. Cool. Well, Austin does stick to the script, I’ll give him that. He’s said enough stuff about his treatment by Baz Luhrman and his post-filming hospitalization that makes that set sound horrible, so I guess he has to say something to make it sound like all that suffering was worth it. And maybe it will be worth it if he gets an Oscar (nomination) out of it, I don’t know. He is taking his “one and only sister” to the Golden Globes though, so maybe that makes up for it. Baz Luhrman also said that Austin encouraged him to make the movie at a point when it almost fell apart by saying he wouldn’t walk. Austin’s dedication to this role is really something.

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Photos credit: Blaine Ohigashi/Avalon, JPI Studios/Avalon, Getty

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21 Responses to “Austin Butler says it was worth not seeing his family for 3 years while filming Elvis”

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  1. Emmi says:

    Sure, whatever. I’d like to hear what his family has to say but I guess they raised him so ….

    I don’t know if it’s age but I realized these past few years that your parents and other relatives get old faster than you anticipate. Suddenly they’re at an age where illnesses start, where you learn to take care of sick parents and what that means. It also means you learn to appreciate the time you have. Maybe he’s too young, his parents are young, or has other priorities. My mother would be heartbroken if I did this.

    • Lucy2 says:

      I think his mother actually passed away a few years ago. He talked about it during his SNL monologue and got choked up when talking about his family. It makes it even more odd to me that he would cut everyone off for work, but who knows. Big chunk of that was the pandemic, and he was in Australia, which was tough on travel.

  2. CROWHOOD says:

    For me it’s just…… no k.

  3. Concern Fae says:

    Everybody has different families.

    • RoSco says:

      Yeah, this seems … fine? Like he is fine with it, his family doesn’t have an issue (as far as we can tell)? Even though COVID didn’t prohibit him from traveling, he still could have felt it better not to chance it. I figure that as long as he’s not harming anyone else or himself with his acting methods, it’s fine.

  4. Frippery says:

    To have the absolute luxury of a loving supportive family and decide to just not see them for years in order to make a sh*tty biopic……

    • Jess says:

      I do have to say though, that he did a fantastic job. I watched it bc it was free with HBOMax and did not expect much. He was really good.

  5. mtos says:

    I find him insufferable and do not get his appeal at all. I also dont find him the least bit attractive. I’m 15 years older than him so maybe that’s it.

  6. HeyKay says:

    I don’t see him as having a long range career.
    Remember Gary Bussey was Oscar nominated for Buddy Holly story and was supposed to be the Next Big Thing.
    He did make more movies tho.

    Lockdown messed up everything, travel was restricted, etc.
    Did he really go years without contact with his family?
    Calls, zoom at least I would think.

    • LIONE says:

      Austin is in Dune 2, which just wrapped. He is definitely going to work for a long time. I’m not a fan either, but somehow he has some VERY good connections in the industry.
      He does come from a privileged family though, like Timothee Chalamet, and have known important people in the industry for years.

  7. blue says:

    “I had months where I wouldn’t talk to anybody,” he went on.”?? Not sure I believe this.

  8. Twin Falls says:

    Doubling down on I’m a selfish jerk is a choice.

  9. Sof says:

    Mmm… I remember reading about him asking Dicaprio how far Luhrman took his actors to get the movie he wanted, at the time I thought he was worried about working with him.
    Don’t know if not talking to his family was worth it but this movie did give Austin international recognition, something that not many actors of his generation have at this point.
    Also, I’m out of the gossip loop nowadays, is he still dating Kaia? Did he ignore her aswell?

  10. Solidgold says:

    Actors selling themselves and their dignity for that Oscar nomination is both funny and humiliating.

  11. Daisy says:

    Can he at least stop talking with the fake Elvis accent now? The SNL promo videos were ridiculous.

  12. Case says:

    Whether we’re talking about actors or office workers, we’ve moved into an era and a mindset in which excessive dedication to your job is just not impressive. Austin was great as Elvis and I hope he gets recognition for that, but everyone is replaceable. Doing over the top nonsense to prove how much you care about your job is not where it’s at — work/life balance is what we like to see!

    • LIONE says:

      That depends on the motivation and intention.

      If he did this to get respect, acclaim and seem like a serious actor, it’s a problem, I agree.

      If it was for his own interest and love for the project and art, it seems like a long stretch of hyperfixation. Which happens to a lot of artists.

      However, the way he always seems like he’s extremely self conscious and always acting, even when he’s “himself” and given the fact that he suffered from a lot of anxiety and self doubt, I will take a wild guess and say he did it all to gain respect and be seen as serious. And maybe he is a perfectionist and couldn’t let it go.

  13. ML says:

    Another male actor going all-in for his art. In no world could a woman do this and speak positively of giving up her family for 3 (!) years for her art and be taken seriously.

  14. SammiB says:

    Solidgold I am crying with laughter! That’s exactly what I thought – every year there’s a version of this story for your consideration lol

  15. shanaynay says:

    Personally, I didn’t think he was the right choice to play Elvis. I thought there were other better choices. Anyone agree with me? : – )