Austin Butler’s press tour for Elvis is still continuing, with the movie making over $100 million in North America alone so far. In his latest interview, for VMAN magazine, Butler has revealed more about director Baz Luhrmann’s process.
About a month after casting him, the director accompanied his leading man down to the historic RCA Studio in Nashville, Tennessee where Elvis famously recorded over 200 songs. Butler says; “I was so nervous, and we were recording on actual equipment that Elvis recorded Heartbreak Hotel on,” he remembers.
Luhrmann did not take it easy on the trepidatious Butler; “Well, when I was on my first day in the recording studio, Baz wanted me to get as close to performing as possible. He had all the executives and everybody from RCA, who were back in the offices, he brought them into the recording studio and he goes, ‘I want you all to sit facing Austin,’…and he told them to heckle me. So then they were making fun of me and stuff while I was singing.”
The apparent reason for the humiliation was so Butler could then conjure that feeling on-set; “When we were filming this moment when Elvis first goes on stage and he’s getting heckled by the audience, I knew what that felt like. I went home in tears that night. I really did.”
“When he [Elvis] was a kid, he would ask everyone to turn around in the room, and he would turn the lights off, ’cause he didn’t wanna play in front of people.” This helped humanise Elvis for Butler; “He’s so idolized – that it’s a bit of a trap, to look at him and go, ‘Well, he’s so much bigger than me’…I felt like a child wearing his father’s suit.”
Although it’s still very early days, Butler seems to be a contender for the Best Actor Oscar race.
For more biopics, check out our guide to movies based on a true story.