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Austin Butler says he put his “life on pause for two years” to prepare to play Elvis Presley.
The ‘Elvis’ star put a priority on getting into character and “absorbed everything” that he “possibly could” to bring his best work to the biopic of the King of Rock’n’Roll helmed by Baz Luhrmann.
Speaking at a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday (26.05.22), the 30-year-old actor told reporters: “I basically put the rest of my life on pause for two years and I just absorbed everything I possibly could.”
Austin admitted to going “down the rabbit hole of obsession” to get to grips with the ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ legend.
He said: “I just went down the rabbit hole of obsession. And I broke down his life into periods of time where I could hear the differences in how his voice changed over the years and how his movement changed over the years and I spent two years studying, trying to find his humanity as best as I could through that.”
The ‘Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’ found it “tricky” to find the human aspect to Elvis as he is such an pop culture icon.
Austin said: “The tricky thing is you see Elvis as this icon, or as the wallpaper of society and finding a way to strip all of that away and find the very human nature of him that was deeper than all of that, that’s what was fascinating for me.”
Austin loved getting into the role, labelling it a “joy”.
He said: “The ability to get to explore that was just the joy of my life.”
Austin spoke about the “unrealistic expectations” he placed on himself to bring Elvis to life.
He said: “When I first started, I put these unrealistic expectations on myself that somehow, if I worked hard enough, I could make my face identical to Elvis’ face. And that my eyes would look exactly like Elvis’ eyes and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.”
The former ’the Carrie Diaries’ star watched some clips of Elvis “over and over and over”, such as his television performances from the 50s.
Austin said: “I would watch Milton Berle ‘Hound Dog. I watched one second of this clip over and over and over, looking at what his eyes were doing and the angle of his head, what his hand was doing and try to find it exactly and practice that until it was in my marrow, and then the tricky thing is being able to be there on the day and have it feel like it’s happening for the first time and that it’s spontaneous.”
Austin compared getting character as Elvis – who died in 1977 – to “spinning plates”.
He said: “It’s like spinning plates, because you want to go back to the specifics. And so it was this constant back and forth.
“Someone asked me yesterday, ‘Did you watch playback when you were filming?’ I said there were certain moments like, watching ‘Hound Dog,’ we did one take and I went back and I watched it, and I thought, ‘I’m doing too much,’ so then you strip it back, strip it back and try to get to the point where you have to get through the nerves of it and just feel alive.”
The ‘Dune: Part Two’ star wanted to “justice” for his legacy and his family – his daughter Lisa Marie Presley, 54, her mother and Elvis’ ex Priscilla Presley, 7x, and his granddaughter Riley Keough, 32 – and admitted being “overjoyed” pleasing them with his performance.
Austin said: “I’ve lived him now for three years, so the feeling of doing him justice, justice to his legacy and really bring life to this extraordinary man, and to make Lisa Marie and Priscilla and Riley and the entire family proud, I cannot be more overjoyed, and I just feel over the moon about that.”