“It was truly one of the happiest times of my life,” Austin Butler told me of being up in Queensland filming ELVIS, the new biopic about Elvis Presley.
“I had such a great time. I have so many memories of just going to coffee shops. Australia’s got the best coffee in the world! That’s for sure. And I’d get coffee and walk down the beach. I had the greatest time.”
Austin Butler is back Down Under for the Australian ELVIS premiere along with the bloke who will always have a friend in us, Tom Hanks, and one of the most iconic directors of our time, Baz Luhrmann.
“I spent two years doing nothing else but study Elvis,” Austin said of preparing for the role.
“I’d wake up every morning and listen to an Elvis interview while I ate breakfast. Then I’d go for a walk and listen to an Elvis interview. I watched endless videos. It was a process of just following my curiosity.”
Shortly before the movie was due to begin filming, production was shut down as Tom Hanks famously caught rona, becoming one of the first celebs to get struck down by the virus. I remember it like it was yesterday – as does Austin.
“We were a few days from shooting and he got it and at first it was that thing where we didn’t know what it was at that time,” Austin recalled.
“So we were all concerned for his health. And Rita, his wife.
“I had to go into quarantine immediately because I was around him very closely so at that time I was just working.”
Since the two week shutdown had turned into a six month shutdown, production recommended that Austin fly back to LA but he declined the offer to continue prepping for the role in Australia.
“I decided to stay here because I knew that if I flew back, I’d lose all the momentum I’d built here,” he said.
“It was this time where I could let everything marinate. Because you work and you work and you’re getting so close, but you feel this pressure in a certain way. So to have this time where things could just breathe helped a lot.”
During the shutdown, Austin along with several cast and crew members formed a film club where they watched and analysed popular flicks.
“We’d pick a movie every week and watch it and Zoom each other to talk about the film. That was really fun,” he said.
ELVIS is in cinemas today.
Our full interview is coming soon to PEDESTRIAN.TV.