Austin Butler got so into his Elvis role, his body literally shut down was rushed to the hospital because he was in excruciating pain after filming wrapped.
He was cast as the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, in Baz Luhrmann’s latest biopic, Elvis. But according to Butler, he threw all of himself into the role so intensely, it sent him to the hospital.
Austin researched music, including the impact of hip-hop and pop culture, to perfect his role as a legendary singer.
In February, he said that he was curious about Elvis Presley as a human being. In an interview with GQ, he revealed that after his time playing this musician his body shut down.
He said that he abruptly experienced intense physical pain in March of last year during filming.
“In excruciating pain, I was rushed to the hospital,” he told the outlet. “Doctors found that my body just started shutting down”. After a week of convalescence, doctors diagnosed him with a virus that can make appendicitis worse.
Austin explained that his character had a complete identity crisis and it was more like he was experiencing the role than playing it.
He told GQ that his life after finishing Elvis’s last movie left him feeling he had lost touch with who he really was.
In an interview, he reveals that when initial production on the film shut down in March 2020 when co-star Tom Hanks came down with COVID-19, he declined an offer to be flown back to LA, and instead stayed in Australia (the filming location and Baz Luhrmann’s home country) to really become the “Hound Dog” singer.
Luhrmann noticed people starting to speak in a different way around Austin, particularly actors.
“When I asked one of my assistants about Butler’s accent, they said ‘He’s not Southern. He’s from Anaheim.’ I don’t think, until recently, I actually came to understand how Austin actually sounded.”
Luhrmann should have seen this coming, as the reason Austin got the part in the first place was due to his extreme audition tape singing “Unchained Melody” and Luhrmann saying he thought the actor might be having a nervous breakdown.
Casting for The Great Gatsby went smoothly, because there was another Oscar-winning actor with Austin in the Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh. Actor Denzel Washington co-starred with Butler, who helped him secure the role.
Tom Hanks convinced Vogue that the movie would require a lot of pressure. They tested how long and hard Austin would work through his role to make this film successful.
In 2022, Austin said he had changed himself to make his family proud.
Cannes thought highly enough of the film that they awarded it a standing ovation. Elvis’ only daughter, Lisa Marie Presley attended the screening and took to social media afterwards to praise Austin’s authenticity.
“Austin Butler channeled and embodied my father’s heart and soul beautifully,” she wrote on Facebook and Twitter. “In my humble opinion, his performance is unprecedented in many respects.” (If he doesn’t get an Oscar for this, I will eat my own foot, haha.)
Austin declined to comment on his personal life and relationships. He dated Vanessa Hudgens for nine years, but is now linked with Kaia Gerber, Cindy Crawford’s daughter. But all he said about that was “life is full of changes, and you need to find ways to constantly evolve and grow.”
“I don’t think talking about my relationship is something that makes sense for me. Thank you for providing the space,” he says.
Elvis’ new movie is scheduled to premiere June 24.