Austin Butler Reveals He Didn’t See Family For 3 Years While Filming ‘Elvis: Watch

There's 'disappearing into a role,' and then there's what Austin Butler did for 'Elvis.' The star of Baz Luhrmann's film cut everyone off to where 'the only thing I was ever thinking about was Elvis.'

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Image Credit: ©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

Hollywood is full of famous method actors, those who go to great lengths to capture the essence of a role. Daniel Day-Lewis famously transforms into whomever he played on screen. Christian Bale starved himself down to 121 pounds for The Machinist. Yet, what Austin Butler revealed in his conversation with Janelle Monáe for Variety might be considered extreme. Janelle, 37, asked how Austin, 31, “push[es] out the noise when you’re preparing for a role.” Austin said, “During Elvis, I didn’t see my family for about three years.”

“I was prepping with Baz [Luhrmann, Elvis director], and then I went to Australia,” said Austin. “I had months where I wouldn’t talk to anybody. And when I did, the only thing I was ever thinking about was Elvis. I was speaking in his voice the whole time.”

Austin also revealed that COVID-19 affected how Baz shot the film. Initially, they were going to go chronologically. The pandemic shifted to where they shot the Elvis comeback sequence first. “It was so nerve-racking because I had a year and a half before that point to prepare,” said Butler. “And all the preparation is for nothing if you don’t get it. Before walking out onstage, I really had the terror: ‘My career feels like it’s on the line [at] this moment.’ But at that point in Elvis’ life, his career was on the line and he had terror.”

Austin as Elvis (©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Janelle didn’t have to go to such extremes for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. “I was like, ‘Family, I love you. But I may not be texting you back because I’m really devoted to doing my best.'” The commitment resulted in one of the most critically-acclaimed movies of the year. “Lots of things were getting canceled for me, and it was just a dream come true to be sent that script,” she said. “There was a lot to manage with this role, a lot of energies to manage. I had to keep two to three different notebooks.”

“I’ve been given a very unique opportunity to have a music career and an acting career. Honestly, I don’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t doing both,” added Monáe. “I look at it as storytelling. What is the story we’re telling today? Sometimes it’s like you take a role because you want to be challenged, right? You’re like, ‘I have this side of me that I want to explore a little bit more.’ Now I’m thinking a lot differently. I’m just like, ‘Is this going to be fun? Who is the director? Who are the actors? When I meet them, do I get a good vibe? OK, I can be with you guys for three months.’ Because time waits for nothing.”

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