Just a few weeks ago, Austin Butler was accepting a Golden Globe for his lead role in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis. As he gave his acceptance speech, Lisa Marie Presley sat in the audience. Now, as the accolades continue to roll in for the relative newcomer, circumstances have changed. On the heels of his nomination for Best Actor at the 95th Academy Awards, Butler reflected on how much has changed in such a short time.
Just two days after the Golden Globes, Lisa Marie Presley died suddenly, leaving an incredible void for all who knew her. Butler, who has become incredibly close to the Presley family after working on the film, is still processing the tragic event.
“It’s been a roller coaster lately—a lot of peaks and these deep valleys of sorrow and things, but moments like this are very special and so I’m trying to take it in,” he stated shortly after the nominations were announced. “But there is that thing where I wish Lisa Marie was here right now to get to be a part of it and celebrate this.”
The entire Presley family was supportive of the film, which tells the story of Elvis' life through the eyes of his former manager Colonel Tom Parker. When the movie was released, Lisa Marie made a rare post on Instagram in favor of the film, particularly Butler's portrayal of her father. “Austin Butler channeled and embodied my father’s heart and soul beautifully. In my humble opinion, his performance is unprecedented and FINALLY done accurately and respectfully,” she wrote.
Her support had a significant impact on Butler, who immersed himself in the project for years and obsessively consumed anything he could to get himself into the mindset of playing the iconic musician. The actor, who is naturally shy and hadn't sung or danced in front of people before, pushed himself mentally and creatively to embody the role.
“[This role] seemed as though it was this impossible mountain to climb in front of me,” Butler told The Hollywood Reporter. “There were so many pitfalls and so I just was focusing on one step at a time. And really the thing for me was just honoring the life of this man and his family. And that’s why those moments when Lisa Marie and Priscilla [Presley] got to see the film and then I first saw them after … nothing I would do would ever top that. And especially with Lisa Marie not being here with us. I just wish she was here to celebrate today with us.”
Still, from all of the support that she'd given him, Butler knows just how elated she would have been for his success.
“When I see moments like today or when I feel moments like today, I have to really take a second to go, ‘OK, this is this is something to be really grateful for.’ But nothing compares to that moment I looked in her eyes after she first saw the film, where she told me how much it meant to her. I’ll really cherish that for the rest of my life.”