Austin Butler practiced some method acting for his role as Elvis.
The actor spoke with VMAN for their Fall-Winter 2022 cover story about his time preparing for the role of a lifetime in “Elvis”.
For one particular scene, director Baz Luhrmann surprised the actor by inviting people to come heckle his performance.
“When I was on my first day in the recording studio, Baz wanted me to get as close to performing as possible,” Butler recalled. “He had all the executives and everybody from RCA, who were back in the offices, he brought them into the recording studio and he goes, ‘I want you all to sit facing Austin’ … and he told them to heckle me.”
He added, “So then they were making fun of me and stuff while I was singing.”
While the treatment might’ve seemed cruel, Butler found it did help him for a similar scene later in the movie.
“When we were filming this moment when Elvis first goes on stage and he’s getting heckled by the audience, I knew what that felt like,” he said. “I went home in tears that night. I really did.”
Luckily the actor wasn’t too blindsided by the odd directing technique as he had been warned by his friend Leonardo DiCaprio who had worked with the director before on “Romeo + Juliet” (1996) and “The Great Gatsby” (2013).
“I had spoken to Leo before and he said, ‘Baz is gonna push you in ways you didn’t know somebody could,’” Butler said. “‘He’s gonna push you off balance and keep you off balance.’”