'I Never Played For Anybody': Austin Butler Talks Growing Up Shy And 'Elvis' Role

Elvis actor Austin Butler
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American actor Austin Butler began his career in television, appearing in two special episodes of the teenage show Hannah Montana in 2006 and 2007. In addition to playing major roles in The Carrie Diaries and The Shannara Chronicles, he frequently appeared in the television series Switched at Birth.

This year, his portrayal of Elvis Presley in the musical biography Elvis has garnered him so much praise from critics. On June 23, 2022, Austin dropped by The Kelly Clarkson Show to promote the movie.

During the interview, Austin talked about how he took up the role. He also spoke about his acting journey, Denzel Washington, and much more.

See more details of the interview below.

Austin Played The Guitar For Eight Hours A Day As A Child

Austin Butler close up in all black
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It is no secret that Austin is a musical prodigy. However, his incredible talent prompted the host, Kelly, to ask if he was musical as a kid. In response, Austin briefly described his musical career as a teenager. 

"My dad gave me a guitar when I was 13 years old and I was obsessed about it. I would play for eight hours a day, my fingers would bleed and I would super glue them shut and keep playing but I never played for anybody," he said. 

Austin revealed that as a teenager, he was so shy, hence, why he never played for anyone. Kelly responded, "That's ironic," wondering how Austin starred in the musical movie Elvis when he was so shy as a teenager. 

Austin's Weird Acting Journey

Acting helped Austin to discover his personality, but it happened in the weirdest way. 

The Hannah Montana actor recalled that he started acting when he went with his stepbrother to an acting audition in Los Angeles. 

"I just tagged along as he went up to the audition in Los Angeles. And when they saw that my mom had another kid they were like, 'Does he wanna do it too?'"

Austin admitted that he still does not know what came over him that day because he was so shy. However, when his mom asked him, "Are you interested" he said, "yea," and that was it. 

"And that's what got me into it. When I got my first manager and started going to acting class, and acting class broke me out of my shyness, in a way. That gave me an outlet for it," he added. 

How Austin Got His Role In 'Elvis'

Austin Butler in white blazer
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"The movie is amazing, so can you explain to everybody how you got the role?" Kelly asked Austin, who went on to explain the story behind him getting the role to portray the legendary Elvis Presley.

"I sent Baz [Luhrmann] a tape. I heard he was making the film, and I sent him a tape of me singing 'Unchained Melody' and playing the piano, and he responded to it, and then I flew to New York."

Austin further explained how he met with Baz Luhrman, who made him complete five months of mini auditions before he finally got the role.

"We ended up doing that for 5 months. It was unlike any audition," Austin confessed. 

Austin Calls Denzel Washington His Hero

Denzel Washington close up
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Kelly asked Austin if Denzel Washington influenced him getting the role since the latter loved and believed in him. Austin replied, "I don't know if that played into it. It's possible."

A photo of Austin staring at Denzel was displayed on the screen. The picture prompted Austin to gush about Denzel being his hero. 

"He's powerful. He's been my hero for so long," he gushed.

Austin also opened up about how Denzel took him in his wing and gave him some acting advice. He confessed, "That was really huge for me."

Austin's new movie, Elvis, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 25, 2022, but was released theatrically by Warner Bros. Pictures in Australia on June 23, 2022, and in the United States on June 24. It is now available in theaters.