Austin Butler: Where is he going? Where has he been?
With his first appearances being on television, Screen Editor Pollyanna Roberts tours us through Austin Butler’s roles from Disney to his recent collaborations with Quentin Tarantino and Baz Luhrman.
The world of biopic cinema was revolutionised by Luhrmann’s 2022 film Elvis, starring Austin Butler in his breakout role. His performance undoubtedly stole the show. He burst into the Hollywood scene and was triumphant. However, where did this mysterious Austin Butler come from? Where did his acting career begin?
Our generation will most likely recognise him from our screens when we were younger; he made an appearance in Nickelodeon’s iCarly and Zooey 101. However, he is most famous in his youth for starring alongside Ashley Tisdale in Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventures.
Austin Butler’s charisma and talent have blessed our screens from Disney to Hollywood. While we can adore the actor Butler has grown to be, we must appreciate where he started and applaud the casting director who saw potential in a blonde, floppy-haired boy with a guitar. Ironically, Butler’s character in iCarly couldn’t sing, leaving most of its viewers cringing and blocking their ears. Oh, how the tables have turned.
Butler can relate to Elvis as both lost their mothers at twenty-three, the connection allowing him to fully engage in his performance
After dabbling in a range of tv shows, Butler booked his first movies, Aliens in the Attic and Disney’s Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventures. Butler then ventured onto darker roles as he grew up, escaping the grasp of Disney. He played a sinister member of the Manson family in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, alongside superstars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt.
Funnily enough, Butler was soon to work with Luhrmann, whom DiCaprio had worked with on The Great Gatsby and Romeo + Juliet. Luhrmann pushes his actors to their limits, and it definitely pays off. Elvis completely blew me away, and most have had the same reaction. Many describe Elvis and the music as igniting some “out of body” experience.
Austin Butler took this role by the horns and completely changed the game. His sheer dedication to the role was evident in his inability to shake Elvis’ accent even weeks after filming had wrapped. It seems that he lived and breathed Elvis – he became Elvis. His performance was transcendent, his voice heavenly.
He captured Elvis incredibly well, perhaps due to similarities. Butler can relate to Elvis as both lost their mothers at twenty-three, the connection allowing him to fully engage in his performance: depicting a thoughtful, loving mother-son relationship and a deep sadness when she passes. The scene between Elvis and his dad crying on the porch is the bare-faced realism we needed in a biopic full of colour, light and sound.
Butler has set a precedent for all child actors: one year, you’re playing an extra on Nickelodeon, and ten years later, you’re the titular character in a Hollywood blockbuster
Portraying Elvis is so much more than just singing and dancing. Butler has set a precedent for all child actors: one year, you’re playing an extra on Nickelodeon, and ten years later, you’re the titular character in a Hollywood blockbuster.
His performance has sparked Oscar rumours, and even though he wasn’t the biggest name in the production (hats off to Tom Hanks), the popularity and fame he has gained from this one role will launch him into a future of success and stardom.
In Elvis, we watched Presley grow and become a superstar, just as our generation is witnessing Butler grow; who knows where he will end up? I know I’ll be in the front row for all his upcoming performances.