Austin Butler may be better known to some for his high profile relationships rather than his acting prowess, but a breakout lead performance in Baz Luhrmann’s new film Elvis is set to change everything.
The former child star, who was born in Anaheim, California, is the current darling of film reviewers across the world, with his depiction of Elvis being described as the best thing about the movie.
With a career dating back to his childhood, boasting roles in Disney and Nickelodeon productions, as well as multiple movie parts, and now the breakout role in Luhrmann’s biopic, the 30-year-old seems to be standing on the cusp of a stellar Hollywood career.
But this wasn’t always the plan for the California native, who has revealed his childhood shyness made him so tongue-tied around strangers, he couldn’t even order his own food in restaurants.
Born in 1991 to his late mother Lori Anne, an aesthetician, and realtor David Butler, the youngster had one older sister Ashley.
Austin (pictured here in Elvis) earned the title role after sending an audition tape of himself singing in his bathrobe to director Baz Luhrmann
Although his starring role in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic Elvis has put him firmly on the Hollywood map, actor Austin Butler (pictured here in 2008) is a veteran of the entertainment industry, with a large back catalogue of work
Austin Butler, pictured with his older sister Ashley, has previously spoken about how he didn’t plan to be an actor as a young child, as he was extremely shy
After their parents divorced amicably, when Austin was seven-years-old, the siblings would move between their respective homes.
Though the family ‘didn’t have much money’, in Austin’s words, Lori Anne was able to buy season tickets for nearby Disneyland.
She would occasionally let the two children skip a day off school, and the trio would enjoy a day at the amusement park.
As a child, Austin showed an interest in the arts, teaching himself to play the guitar and piano at a young age.
Many may be more familiar with the 30-year-old actor because of his relationships with high profile women including Vanessa Hudgens (pictured, left) and Kaia Gerber (pictured, right)
Pictured here at a Cannes photocall for Elvis this month, the actor is poised for major success, after winning plaudits for his portrayal of the musician
However, his entry into acting came about by chance meeting when he was 10-years-old.
Speaking to Vanity Fair in 2020, Austin revealed that it was while tagging along when his stepbrother went to L.A. for a commercial audition, that he was asked if he too would like to read for a part.
According to Austin: ‘I don’t know what came over me, but I said yes. They handed me a commercial – Oreos or Welch’s grape juice or something – and I go up in front of a camera after all these children.
‘I was shaking, but I did it, and that led to me being an extra at 10 years old.’
After landing a regular job as a background actor on the Nickelodeon show Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide in 2005, Austen got a manager and started acting seriously.
Over the coming years, he worked prolifically, winning roles in Disney’s Hannah Montana as well as in Nickelodeon series including iCarly and Zoey 101.
Movie roles in 2009’s Aliens in the Attic, Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure followed. Meanwhile, he appeared in TV shows including CSI: Miami, The Defenders and Arrow among others.
He also acted in a play alongside veteran actor Denzel Washington in 2018, taking a role in The Iceman Cometh on Broadway.
But the young star, who left high school aged 15-and-a-half, had even bigger ambitions.
As he revealed to GQ, he always had high aspirations when it came to the kind of productions he wanted to act in, listing Raging Bull, The Basketball Diaries and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape as movies he admired.
The star, pictured here at a Nickelodeon premiere in 2008, has disclosed that his family didn’t have lots of money growing up, but as natives of Anaheim, his mother managed to buy Disneyland passes, and would take Austin and his sister sometimes on school days
Austin (pictured, centre, in 2012) has talked about how he used the pain from the death of his mother Lori (pictured, right) from cancer in 2014 in his acting
‘I printed out the Pulp Fiction script when I was 12, and I’d read it to my mum in the car,’ he said.
‘That was my dream from 12-years-old. I said, “Quentin [Tarantino] is the director I want to work with”.’
That wish came true when he played Tex Watson, a rabid Manson follower, in the iconic director’s 2019 movie Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
Austin was accompanied to the film’s 2019 premiere with his then girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens, 33, who reportedly ended the relationship in early 2020, after nearly nine years together.
Since then, he confirmed his relationship with Kaia Gerber, the 20-year-old model and daughter of Cindy Crawford in March this year, after the couple were first spotted together at the end of 2021.
He’s remained tight-lipped about the relationship though, telling GQ he doesn’t want to share about it.
Austen prefers instead to discuss his acting work, even when it includes painful details about his personal life.
He has spoken openly about how he created the audition tape that landed him the part of Elvis in Luhrmann’s movie, opening up about how he channelled pain from the death of his mother from cancer several years’ earlier, when he was 23, into his performance.
Film director Baz Luhrmann (pictured, right, at the Cannes Film Festival this month), has suggested that Austin (pictured, left) could enjoy the same success as Leonardo DiCaprio
Many of the recent headlines concerning Austin have been about his relationship with Kaia Gerber. The pair confirmed their relationship earlier this year
After trying to film an audition tape for the movie, and feeling like it wasn’t authentic, the actor despondently went to bed where he had a nightmare that his mother was alive again, but dying.
Just days earlier, Austen had learnt that Elvis too had lost his mother when he was 23, and thought about how he could use the parallel.
He told Vogue: ‘I sat down at the piano in my bathrobe and just started fiddling. I’d been practicing Unchained Melody for a while, but I’d always been singing it to a lover.
‘That night, I sang it to my mom. I wasn’t trying to look and sound like Elvis. I wasn’t trying to do anything but take that emotion and pour it into the song.’
Despite the lack of polish – Austin was wearing his dressing gown in the tape – the video was compelling enough to land him the film’s eponymous role, despite director Baz Luhrmann considering bigger names like Harry Styles.
Now the film has finally been released, following a gruelling production schedule which included long delays due to Covid, plaudits have already started pouring in for its star.
Industry figures now anticipate major success for the its star. In fact Luhrmann, who cast Leonardo DiCaprio in his 90s adaptation of Romeo and Juliet compared the two actors, suggesting Austin can expect the same trajectory.
Speaking to GQ, he said: ‘I think Leonardo was recognising what Austin’s about to go through. The difference for Austin, and this is fortunate, is that Austin is very young looking, but he’s 30.’