Austin Butler's transformative journey of portraying Elvis Presley has almost reached its apex. He was officially cast in Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis" movie back in 2019, but the director put the actor's skills to the ultimate test before crowning him the king of rock and roll. During his June 23 appearance on "The Kelly Clarkson Show," Butler discussed completing months of mini auditions for Luhrmann before finally snagging his "Elvis" role.
"It was unlike any other audition."
"I flew to New York, and we met and just talked for three hours," he explained to host Clarkson. "Then [Luhrmann] said, 'You want to come in tomorrow and read a couple scenes from the script?' So I came in and read a couple scenes, then he said, 'You want to come in tomorrow and sing a couple songs?' . . . We ended up doing that for five months. It was unlike any other audition."
Clarkson joked and told Butler, "That's a relationship." Butler jumped through many hoops to prove he was Luhrmann's leading man — including a screen test the director completely changed on the actor the day of. "He put me through the ringer," he admitted of Luhrmann. "But I realize now it's because he likes to be very spontaneous on set — he wanted to see if I'd lose my mind."
Clearly, Butler survived Luhrmann's many trials, as his "Elvis" performance has garnered much praise from critics and Presley's family — including the late singer's ex-wife, Priscilla Presley; daughter, Lisa Marie Presley; and granddaughter Riley Keough.
In true Luhrmann fashion, the director delivered Butler's casting news in the most dramatic way. "I didn't think I got it," Butler revealed to Clarkson. "Then a week later, I got a call, I woke up to Baz calling me. I thought, 'This is the moment — either I have it or I don't' . . . [Luhrmann] sounded kinda downcast and he goes, 'I just wanted to be the first one to call you and say, are you ready to fly, Mr. Presley?'" And the rest is history.
Watch Butler's full interview on "The Kelly Clarkson Show" above.