Austin Butler confirms ex Vanessa Hudgens was ‘friend’ who told him to play Elvis

Actor said that former girlfriend had had a ‘clairvoyant moment’

Isobel Lewis
Friday 27 January 2023 09:26 GMT
Baz Luhrmann's Elvis trailer

Austin Butler has clarified that his ex Vanessa Hudgens told him he should play Elvis Presley long before he was cast as the singer.

Butler, who this week earnt a Best Actor nod at the Oscars for his performance in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic Elvis, said in a recent interview that a “friend” had heard him singing along with the king of rock and roll long and insisted he should play Presley one day.

However, internet sleuths realised that Butler’s former partner Hudgens had spoken in a previous interview about how she had been the one to tell Butler about his resemblance to Presley.

In a new interview with The Los Angeles Times, the record was set straight as journalist Mark Olsen told Butler he wanted to “clear up” the origin of the moments.

Olsen mentioned the “friend”, to which Butler replied: “I was with my partner at the time.”

Asked if it had been Hudgens, he confirmed: “That’s right. We’d been together for so long and she had this sort of clairvoyant moment and so I really, I owe her a lot for believing in me.”

Back in 2019, Hudgens had recalled how she’d been driving with Butler when he’d started singing along to Presley in the car during an interview on Live with Kelly and Ryan.

“He had just dyed his hair dark… and I was like, ‘Babe, you need to play Elvis. I don’t know how, but I’m serious. You need to play him,’” she said.

Butler as Presley in ‘Elvis’ (Warner Bros Entertainment Inc)

“Then in January, he was sitting at the piano – he’s a musician – and he’s playing and he’s singing and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how, but we need to figure out how you can play Elvis. Like, I don’t know how we get rights or what we do, but you need to play him.’”

Hudgens and Butler were still together at the time of the interview, but would split in 2020 after eight years.

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When Butler retold the story during a recent roundtable with The Hollywood Reporter, however, he didn’t name Hudgens and instead described her as a “friend”.

The clips were circulated side by side on TikTok and other social media platforms, leading fans to defend the Elvis star.

“It was wholesome enough that he continually credits this story, I’m sure she’s happy that he dosnt name drop her. She’s in another relationship,” one wrote.

Another comment read: “I would much rather be referred to as a friend than ex. Ex means someone in your past, friend means you found peace within each other in my opinion.”

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