Austin Butler Says Getting Priscilla Presley's Blessing for 'Elvis' Was 'So Moving' (Exclusive)

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Austin Butler felt a heavy weight on his shoulders when it came time to step into Elvis Presley's blue suede shoes for the upcoming Elvis biopic, directed by Baz Luhrmann.

"Elvis is so loved and so iconic," the actor told ET's Nischelle Turner earlier this week. "You feel a responsibility playing any human that has actually lived, but with him, it's a weight like I never felt before."

"There's a responsibility to his family, and also putting his story into context," he continued. "There's so many misconceptions about him, there's so many ideas about him. I felt such a responsibility to bring the humanity."

Everything from Elvis' oft-mimicked accent to his signature hairstyle have become so ingrained in the public's memory that they are almost "caricatures" of the man, Butler said.

"It was finding how subtle can you go with things and still have the essence," he said of channeling the iconic persona. "That's the tricky thing, is going back and forth between the incredibly technical things, and then never losing the humanity. That was the goal, to always have his soul in that."

While Butler joked that he "had to work" to master Elvis' famous dance moves and muster up his courage to sing all of the "young Elvis" songs in the film, he said one thing that helped alleviate his nerves was knowing that Elvis was also nervous in those moments.

"The fact that I knew that he experienced stage fright, it relieved so much," he admitted. "It's not something that you need to not feel in order to do things that you believe in."

Most fans will have to wait until the film's June 24 release to see Butler channel the icon, however, his Elvis performance did pass one very important test in earning the approval of Elvis' ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, who joined Butler at the Met Gala and Cannes Film Festival in support of the film.

"I met her before we started filming, and then getting to see her after she'd seen the film, it was so moving to me," the actor recalled. "Because she's also dealt with all the misconceptions about Elvis since the day she met him."

"I was so nervous when she was going to watch the film, because she knows him better than anybody," he added. "When I heard what she felt about it, it just was beyond words. I just felt so good."

Butler has also received plenty of praise from his Oscar-winning co-star, Tom Hanks, who stars as Elvis' longtime manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

"When he came out onstage, he was electrifying!" Hanks raved of Butler in a behind-the-scenes clip from the film. "I think he had to do it 30 times, with everything that was going on, and you could not take your eyes off of him every single time."

"You just wanted to see him do it again and again and again and again," he continued. "Part of that is certainly channeling, part of it is the drive that Austin has, and always has as an actor. But there's also a huge amount of faith that he had in the process and in himself that is not unlike Elvis."

For Butler, that praise is invaluable. "He's been my hero for as long as I can remember," he said of Hanks.

"When I first met him I was at Baz's house in Australia," the young actor recalled. "I come walking up and he goes, 'My boy!' and he holds out his arms and gives me the biggest bear hug."

"He's everything you thought he would be," Butler marveled. "You hear him laugh down the hallway, and you're like, 'That's Woody!'"

Elvis is in theaters June 24. See more on the movie in the video below.


'Elvis': Everything the Presley Family Has Said About the Biopic

Austin Butler Addresses Why He Still Has an Elvis Presley Accent

Austin Butler Shares the Advice He Got From Rami Malek About 'Elvis'

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