Austin Butler’s agent told him he would need to gain weight to play the older version of Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis.” “I heard that Ryan Gosling when he was going to do ‘The Lovely Bones,’ had microwaved Häagen-Dazs and would drink it,” Butler tells Variety. “So I started doing that. I would go get two dozen doughnuts and eat them all. I really started to pack on some pounds. It’s fun for a week, and then you feel awful about yourself. But we were planning on shooting chronologically in the beginning. That quickly went out the window with COVID. It was just impossible.”
On this week’s episode of the Variety Awards Circuit Podcast, Butler sits down to discuss receiving his first Oscar nomination for best actor. He also discusses renting an apartment after the Warner Bros. corporate cards were shut off following the COVID shutdown. In addition, he talked about whether he would reprise his role as James Garrett in a “Zoey 101” movie or get aged-up to play Sebastian Kydd from “The Carrie Diaries,” so he can play opposite Sarah Jessica Parker from “Sex and the City,” a show he says he watched while in his New York City apartment, taking a bath, and feeling like “a middle-aged woman.”
Watch the video above, and return on Friday, Feb. 17, when the full version of the audio podcast will be released, along with an interview with Edward Berger, the director and writer of Netflix’s “All Quiet on the Western Front.”
“Elvis” tells the epic story of the King of Rock and Roll, from age 19 when he was discovered to his untimely death at 42. Butler’s hips don’t lie. The biopic was nominated for eight Academy Awards — best picture (Catherine Martin, Gail Berman, Patrick McCormick and Schuyler Weiss), actor (Butler), production design (Catherine Martin, Karen Murphy Bev Dunn), cinematography (Mandy Walker), costumes (Martin), editing (Jonathan Redmond, Matt Villa), makeup and hairstyling (Mark Coulier, Jason Baird and Aldo Signoretti) and sound (David Lee, Wayne Pashley, Andy Nelson and Michael Keller).
When Butler auditioned to play Elvis, he treated it as if it already belonged to him. After landing the role, the COVID-19 pandemic halted filming, which was taking place in Australia in March 2020. The now 31-year-old recalls his willingness to stay for the project.
Luhrmann took Butler to dinner to tell him he needed to return to the U.S. since it didn’t seem as if filming would resume anytime soon. “I’m not gonna go back,” Butler says, “So it meant I had to rent an apartment myself because all the corporate cards got shut down. They couldn’t even pay for my apartment. I said I’m just going to move to Australia because I knew that if I came back here, I’d lose the momentum that I had.”
That drive has brought him to this moment.
Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, produced by Michael Schneider, who also co-hosts with Clayton Davis, is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post weekly.
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