Austin Butler Confirms Vanessa Hudgens Was the "Friend" Who Manifested His "Elvis" Role

Austin Butler is (finally) crediting ex Vanessa Hudgens for manifesting his "Elvis" role. Following news of his Oscar nomination on Jan. 24, the actor clarified in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that Hudgens indeed inspired him to go for the part. The recent Golden Globe winner previously received backlash for referring to Hudgens, who he dated for nearly a decade, as an unnamed friend in interviews discussing his journey to becoming Elvis Presley.

"I owe her a lot for believing in me."

During a roundtable discussion for The Hollywood Reporter earlier in January, Butler told a story about singing along to a Christmas song by Presley on the radio when a friend looked over at him and said, "You've got to play Elvis," before either of them knew there was a biopic in the works. When asked by the LA Times to confirm if this friend was Hudgens, Butler said, "That's right. We'd been together for so long and she had this sort of clairvoyant moment and so I really, I owe her a lot for believing in me."

Back in August 2019, while the pair were still together, Hudgens recalled the story about Butler in an interview on "Live With Kelly and Ryan." "We were driving along and we were listening to Christmas music, and an Elvis Presley Christmas song came on," she said at the time. "He had just dyed his hair dark. He's a natural blond. And I was looking at him and he was singing along, and I was like, 'Babe, you need to play Elvis. I don't know how, but I'm serious, you need to play him.'"

Butler's acknowledgement of Hudgens's support comes a few days after she shared her thoughts on her ex's seemingly permanent Elvis accent. On Jan. 20, she commented, "Crying," on an Instagram carousel of memes showing the evolution of Butler's voice. However, the "Elvis" actor has insisted that he doesn't hear the musical legend in his own voice, saying it's not something he thinks about. "I guess after three years of doing everything that I could to focus on this one goal of trying to bring life to Elvis in this film, I think that there's certain muscular habits that must pop up," he explained in the LA Times interview.

Butler and Hudgens were together for almost nine years before they split in January 2020. Hudgens is now dating baseball player Cole Tucker, while Butler has been linked to Kaia Gerber since December 2021.