‘I appreciate every moment I spent with Lisa Marie,’ says Elvis’s Austin Butler

He’s already won a Golden Globe and is now tipped for BAFTA and Oscars glory, but for Elvis actor Austin Butler, his incredible run of success is tinged with great sadness.

Just two days after he scooped the Golden Globe for Best Actor for his role as Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic, the legendary singer’s beloved daughter, Lisa Marie, unexpectedly passed away from a cardiac arrest aged 54.

Austin, 31, who was pictured arm-in-arm with her at the awards ceremony, admits he was “shattered” by the news.

“It’s been a roller-coaster lately – a lot of peaks and these deep valleys of sorrow,” he said shortly after learning of his Oscar nomination.

“A moment like this, it feels joyous, but it also feels bittersweet because I just wish Lisa Marie was here to celebrate with us right now.

“It definitely has filled me with a lot of appreciation for every moment that I got to spend with her. And just how lucky I was to get the type of experiences that I had with her – very private moments and that sort of thing – that I’ll just cherish for the rest of my life.”

Austin also bonded with Elvis’s ex-wife, actress Priscilla Presley, 77, before filming on the blockbuster began.

He says, “I met Priscilla beforehand and we spent some time together – that was really moving. I mean, just looking into her eyes alone. She’s the woman that he [Elvis] loved for so many years and she’s been in love with him since she was so young.

“I mean, it’s just amazing. When you look in her eyes and you go, ‘These are the same eyes that he fell in love with.’ It’s unbelievable.”

His affection for both women was clear in his moving Golden Globes acceptance speech, where he thanked them for opening their hearts to him and said, “Lisa Marie, Priscilla, I love you forever.”

His friendship with the pair didn’t end the second the cameras stopped rolling either.

“After the film, we spent more time together and just hearing how it moved her and also the moments where she says, ‘You know, if he was here today. How he would feel…’ I just get chills. I couldn’t dream of a better review,” says the California-born star.

He adds, “Art is subjective but when you’re talking about somebody’s life, no matter what anybody says on the negative side, that’s what I really care about. I’m so grateful.”

Austin began acting classes aged 13 after being spotted by a talent manager.

He had guest roles on TV shows including Disney’s Hannah Montana opposite Miley Cyrus, before hitting the big time when he landed the part of Sebastian Kydd in the Sex And The City prequel, The Carrie Diaries.

In 2018, he won rave reviews for his starring role opposite Denzel Washington in Broadway hit The Iceman Cometh and gained further praise for his “brooding” performance in Quentin Tarantino’s movie, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood.

In the same year, Austin was cast as Elvis, but described working on the part as “the most intimidating thing I’ve ever done”.

After his speech at the Golden Globes last month, many critics commented on how his voice still sounds like that of The King.

Perhaps that’s unsurprising given that Austin immersed himself in the rock’n’roll legend’s life so completely.

“I wallpapered the walls with images of Elvis in a timeline,” he says. “And I did nothing but just watch his films and interviews and obsess. I’d set up a camera and I’d record myself and watch it back.

“It was a two-year process where I just followed my curiosity every day, and I didn’t live any other life. Ultimately, it was about finding his humanity. That’s what was fascinating to me – stripping away how he’s the wallpaper of society or he’s held up as almost a God-like figure to certain people, or he’s a Halloween costume to others.

“The tricky thing is that you also have this desire to get as specific as possible. It was like this back and forth, constantly asking, ‘Why does he move in this way?’ But then getting very specific about whatever movement you did.”

For Austin, endlessly studying footage of Elvis, who died in 1977 aged just 42, was exhausting and led to a lot of “sleepless nights”.

“I would just be feeling an incredible weight of the fact that his voice is so iconic, and be breaking down how his voice changed over the years and his movements. I’d listen to endless hours of his interviews. I tried to leave no stone unturned,” he explains.


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