If you were fan of Hannah Montana-era Austin Butler we’re terribly sorry to inform you that he no longer exists, according to Elvis director Baz Luhrmann.
The actor, 30, has taken on the role of The King of Rock and Roll in the titular movie, directed by the Australian filmmaker, and speaking about the lengths Austin went to in order to embody the late crooner he’s evidently lost a bit of his old self.
Turns out a lot can happen when you spend almost three years playing a certain character day in day out and seeing Austin on the press tour for the film, which was released in cinemas last week, he notably still has the deep Southern drawl he used to portray the music icon.
Speaking about the accent he now sports, Baz said that this is because the former Disney actor ‘blended himself’ with the Heartbreak Hotel hitmaker.
So much so, Baz reckons Austin needs to find another character in which he can ‘completely absorb’ himself in order to ‘recalibrate’, which just sounds like a lot of work to us.
Baz, 59, told The Wrap: ‘Austin and Elvis lose their mother at the same age, so that’s given sort of a spiritual connection. I think Austin blended himself with Elvis.
‘Which is why he’s humanised him so much. Why people, very significant people I know who see the film who don’t track with Elvis at all, who don’t care, went, “I felt like I met someone I never knew.”
‘Now look, you also can’t work on lowering your voice, a tone, for two, nearly three, years. It sticks with you. My voice, when I started directing, there was a video of me, a career video went up and I went “Hi, my name’s Baz Luhrmann, I’m the director of Strictly Ballroom”.
‘Like that’s how I spoke back then. I mean three years is nearly how long you spent in high school. So yeah, his voice is like that. I think he’s going to have to do some other role that is as completely absorbing for him to recalibrate. But I mean the Austin Butler, I think, that was in the Disney shows doesn’t exist anymore. He’s gone through so much in life.’
We suppose he did star in Hannah Montana in 2006…
Still, Austin recently said he studied the late icon so intensely he ‘fell down a rabbit hole of obsession’ in order to unearth his ‘humanity’ for the big screen.
Speaking at a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival, Austin told reporters: ‘I basically put the rest of my life on pause for two years and I just absorbed everything possibly could.
‘I just went down the rabbit hole of obsession. And I broke down his life into periods of time where I could hear the differences in how his voice changed over the years and how his movement changed over the years and I spent two years studying, trying to find his humanity as best as I could through that.’
He said he had placed ‘unrealistic expectations’ himself to bring Elvis to life, recalling: ‘When I first started, I put these unrealistic expectations on myself that somehow, if I worked hard enough, I could make my face identical to Elvis’ face. And that my eyes would look exactly like Elvis’ eyes and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.’
All his hard work and dedication seem to have paid off as the actor has been receiving critical acclaim his portrayal of the singer since Elvis premiered at Cannes. According to Variety, the film received a 12-minute standing ovation, the longest of this year’s festival so far.
The wife of the late icon Priscilla Presley was in attendance to give it her seal of approval, with the publication adding that she and Austin shared a hug after the film, with both appearing emotional.
Meanwhile, Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie Presley recently praised the film and predicted an Oscar for Austin, saying he ‘channeled and embodied my father’s heart & soul beautifully’, and if he didn’t win an Academy Award she ‘will eat my own foot’.
She added that she was also moved to tears by watching her children ‘visibly overwhelmed in the best possible way’ by the film, as they were ‘so filled with pride about their grandfather and his legacy in a way that I have not previously experienced’.
Elvis is in cinemas now.
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