Elvis Presley has been seen in the big screen many times – as an actor, subject of a documentary or in various portrayals. There have been young and older versions of Elvis immortalised on the screen, played by greats from Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in Elvis: The Early Years, to Michael Shannon playing a 35-year-old Elvis in Elvis & Nixon. But who is the latest young man to take on the task of playing The King?
Who is Austin Butler?
Austin Butler is a 28-year-old actor born and raised in California.
The performer was scouted as a child after he was spotted at the Orange County Fair as a 13-year-old.
From there, he went on to have a career on the small screen in children’s and teen TV shows such as Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, iCarly, Hannah Montana and Zoey 101.
He went on to star in the High School Musical spin-off, Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, after which he transitioned into more adult roles, such as on the Sex and the City prequel series The Carrie Diaries.
On the big screen, Butler has been seen in some major movies, such as Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, where he played real-life criminal Tex Watson.
As well as that, he appeared in Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die alongside Oscar nominees Bill Murray and Adam Driver.
His latest movie will take on his toughest role yet, as Elvis Presley in the upcoming biopic, Elvis, directed by Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann.
Speaking of casting Butler back in 2019, Luhrmann said in a statement: “I knew I couldn’t make this film if the casting wasn’t absolutely right, and we searched thoroughly for an actor with the ability to evoke the singular natural movement and vocal qualities of this peerless star, but also the inner vulnerability of the artist.
“Throughout the casting process, it was an honour for me to encounter such a vast array of talent.
“I had heard about Austin Butler from his stand-out role opposite Denzel Washington in The Iceman Cometh on Broadway, and through a journey of extensive screen testing and music and performance workshops, I knew unequivocally that I had found someone who could embody the spirit of one of the world’s most iconic musical figures.”
This particular Broadway show mentioned by Luhrmann, The Iceman Cometh, received rave reviews for Butler.
The New Yorker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning theatre critic Hilton Als wrote: “Although there are many performers [on stage] …There is only one actor, and his name is Austin Butler.”
Of course, this is praise indeed, especially when you are acting opposite Oscar winner Denzel Washington.
If reports at the time were to be believed, Butler had some really tough competition, going up against the likes of Harry Styles, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller and Aaron Taylor-Johnson for the gig.
As well as Butler, Tom Hanks has been cast in the role of Colonel Tom Parker, Oliva DeJonge as Priscilla Presley, Maggie Gyllenhaal as Gladys Presley, Elvis’ mother, and Rufus Sewell as Elvis’ father Vernon Presley.
Outside of his acting, to those familiar with US celebrity news, he’ll be recognisable as Vanessa Hudgens’ long-term partner, though the couple were said to have broken up in 2020.