Austin Butler confirms that ex-girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens was the 'friend' who encouraged him to pursue 'Elvis' role: 'I owe her a lot for believing in me'
- Austin Butler has said the "friend" who encouraged him to play Elvis Presley was Vanessa Hudgens.
- He told the LA Times: "We'd been together for so long and she had this sort of clairvoyant moment."
Now, the actor, who has managed to successfully score a best actor nomination for his performance in the Baz Luhrmann-directed biopic, has finally confirmed that the "friend" in question was — as many internet sleuths suspected — ex-girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens.
In a new interview with The Los Angeles Times, Butler was asked to "clear up" who he was referring to in his story which he told most recently during a roundtable interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
"I was with my partner at the time," Butler said.
When asked explicitly if he meant Hudgens, who the actor dated for nearly nine years, Butler responded: "That's right."
He said: "We'd been together for so long and she had this sort of clairvoyant moment and so I really, I owe her a lot for believing in me."
As mentioned, during an interview earlier this month, the 31-year-old actor referred to Hudgens as a "friend," although they were in a relationship for nearly a decade between 2011 and 2019.
Butler downplayed the pair's relationship so much that fellow Oscar and BAFTA best actor nominee Colin Farrell unwittingly asked for her number, assuming that Butler simply had a very good acquaintance who was able to manifest movie roles.
Butler said at the time: "So I was looking at Christmas lights. There was an Elvis Christmas song on the radio, and I was with a friend of mine, and I was singing along, and my friend kind of looked over at me and goes, 'You've got to play Elvis,' I said, 'Oh, that's such a long shot.'"
Then a couple of weeks later, I was playing the piano. I never really sang for any of my friends or anything," he continued. "That same friend was there, and I was playing the piano. She said, 'I'm serious. You've got to figure out how you can get the rights to a script.'"
"Who is this friend?" I need their — " Farrell interjected, making a phone gesture with his hand.
Many had already worked out that Hudgens was the unnamed "friend" as the former "High School Musical" star shared an almost identical anecdote to Butler's when she appeared on "Live with Kelly and Ryan" in 2019.
At the time, Butler had landed the role in the film but the two had not yet separated.
"It's so crazy because last December, we were driving along, and we were listening to Christmas music, and then an Elvis Presley Christmas song came on," she said.
"He had just dyed his hair dark — he's a natural blonde — and I was looking at him and he was singing along and I was like, 'Babe, you need to play Elvis,'" she continued. "'I don't know how, but I'm serious. You need to play him.'"
Hudgens added: "Then in January, he was sitting at the piano — he's a musician — and he's playing, and he's singing, and I'm like, 'I don't know how, but you need to figure out how you can play Elvis. Like, I don't know how we get rights or what we do, but you need to play him.'"
Meanwhile, Hudgens recently shared her reaction to the news that Butler's hotly debated "Elvis" accent is "genuine."
In an interview with ABC Gold Coast last week, one of Butler's voice coaches, Irene Bartlett, contended the actor's voice, as viewers heard during his acceptance speech at Golden Globes, was the real deal.
"What you saw in that Golden Globes speech, that's him. It's genuine, it's not put on," said Bartlett, adding that she was unsure how long Butler may speak like the king of rock 'n' roll but that it could "be there forever."
Reacting to an Instagram post about Bartlett's comments, Hudgens wrote: "Crying."
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