Austin Butler has nothing but burning gratitude for his ex Vanessa Hudgens.
The ‘Elvis’ star has finally thanked his former girlfriend, who he dated from 2011 to 2020, for the encouragement she gave him to play Elvis Presley, which recently earned him a nomination for the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
“I was with my partner at the time,” he told the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 24, referring to the person who inspired him to pursue the role. When asked if he was actually talking about Hudgens, Butler confirmed.
“It’s true,” he said. “We were together for so long and she had this kind of insightful moment and so really, I owe her a lot for believing in me.”
Initially, Butler called Hudgens an anonymous “friend” who thought he was perfect for the role, telling The Hollywood Reporter on Jan. 10 that the idea came to him a month before he learned Baz Luhrmann was doing a biopic on Elvis.
“I was going to watch the Christmas lights with a friend,” he recalls. “And there was an Elvis Christmas song on the radio and I was singing and my friend looked at me and said, ‘You have to play Elvis. I said, ‘Oh, that’s so far.'”
“The Friend,” as Butler called her, doubled down on the idea, telling her a few weeks later that he had to “find out how you can get the rights to a screenplay” after hearing him play the piano. Afterwards, Butler said, his agent called to tell him that an Elvis movie was in the works.
The story sparked buzz online, with fans finding a similar account the High School Musical alum shared in August 2019, a month after gushing on social media that she was “OVERRRR THE F— –G MOOOOOOOONNNNN” about Butler landing the role of King of Rock N’ Roll.
“Last December we were driving and listening to Christmas music and then an Elvis Presley Christmas song came along,” Hudgens shared on Live with Kelly and Ryan in 2019. “He had just dyed his hair in black. He’s a natural blonde, blonde and I was looking at him and he was singing and I was like, ‘Baby, you gotta play Elvis.'”
She continued, “Then in January he was sitting at the piano. And he’s playing and he’s singing and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how, but you gotta figure out how you can play Elvis. Like, I don’t know how we get the rights or what we do but you have to play it.””
Since their split, Hudgens hasn’t spoken about the now Golden Globe-winning Butler’s performance as Elvis, though she took a moment to acknowledge a post that poked fun at his Elvis-like accent that mesmerized and intrigued fans.
As she simply commented, “Crying.”
He is now dating model Kaia Gerber and Hudgens is with baseball player Cole Tucker.
Austin Butler talks about the death of Lisa Marie Presley. The ‘Elvis’ actor released a statement about the tragic situation to NBC News on Friday, saying his heart is broken for his children and mother Priscilla Presley.