Austin Butler, the newly minted Oscar nominee for his portrayal of Elvis Presley in the Baz Luhrmann film, credits his ex-girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens for encouraging him to pursue the role years ago. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Butler said that Hudgens had a "clairvoyant moment" when they were dating and that he "owes her a lot for believing in me."
During a Hollywood Reporter Actors Roundtable, Butler had referred to her as a "friend" but hadn't named her.
"The month before I heard that Baz was making the movie, I was going to look at Christmas lights with a friend, and there was an Elvis Christmas song on the radio and I was singing along, and my friend looked over at me and goes, 'You've got to play Elvis.' I said, 'Oh, that's such a long shot,'" Butler told Hollywood Reporter at the time.
"A couple of weeks later I was playing piano," he went on. "I never really sang for any of my friends or anything. That same friend was there and I was playing the piano. She said, 'I'm serious. You gotta figure out how you can get the rights to a script.' Then my agent called and said, 'So Baz Luhrmann is making an Elvis film.' "
Butler and Hudgens were first spotted together at Ashley Tisdale's sister's birthday party in 2011. In July 2019, when it was announced that Butler would be playing the role of Elvis, Hudgens showed her support for him on Instagram. However, in January 2020, they announced their split, citing their demanding work and travel schedules. Since the split, Butler has been dating model Kaia Gerber, while Hudgens is dating professional baseball player Cole Tucker.