After taking home the award for Best Actor at the BAFTAs, it looks like Elvis star Austin Butler will need to put away the acceptance speech and start writing a thank you letter to a certain Hollywood heavy hitter for helping him win the role.
Director Baz Luhrmann, who is no stranger to opulent movie musicals and over-the-top cinematic glitz, searched high and low for the perfect person to embody the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Luhrmann revealed just who exactly gave him the idea to cast the golden-haired ex-Disney alumnus and turn him into the hip-jerking, warm honey-voiced hound dog we now know him to be.
When asked why he cast Butler, Baz Luhrmann confessed: “He found me. I received this videotape of this young man in a flood of tears playing Unchained Melody, and I thought, “Wow, who is that? How is that happening?” And then I got a call from Denzel Washington, who gave me a cold call.”
Okay, so it’s a little hard to connect the dots between the man who starred in such gritty action movies like The Equalizer (we’re still waiting eagerly for The Equalizer 3, FYI) and Training Day, and the man whose movies feel like they’ve been marinaded in champagne. But it sounds like even Luhrmann himself wasn’t expecting the outreach.
“I did not know Denzel. And he said, “I’ve just worked with this guy on stage. I’ve never seen a work ethic like it.” And I’m like, “Okay, I must see him.”
Of course, Butler still had to prove himself. But if becoming an Academy Award frontrunner (though not necessarily the number one choice in our Oscars predictions 2023!), a BAFTA win, and a solidification in pop culture are evidence of anything, it’s that he was the right choice.
“I put him through the wringer, but he lived Elvis. What he’s managed to do is not do an impersonation, but to live Elvis, to the extent that he’s humanized him.”
With that, all we have left to say is: cheers, Denzel!
If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t watched Austin Butler dazzling fictional crowds with his moves yet, then check out how to watch Elvis here, or alternatively, if Tom Hank’s weirdly wonderful take on Colonel Parker left you wanting more, then why not check out some of the best Tom Hanks movies ever made?