Austin Butler was able to connect emotionally with Elvis Presley in a manner he hadn't expected. In a recent interview with VMAN magazine, Butler recalled how he "went home in tears" after Elvis' director, Baz Luhrmann, told people to "heckle" him while recording the film's music.
"When I was on my first day in the recording studio, Baz wanted me to get as close to performing as possible," Butler said. "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."
But Butler used the uncomfortable moment to his advantage during a crucial scene 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."
According to Butler, Leonardo DiCaprio warned him about Luhrmann's methods while working 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.'"
Butler has discussed the emotional and physical challenges he experienced while portraying the music icon. The actor received positive reviews for his portrayal of Elvis, but said receiving praise from the late singer's family, including ex-wife Priscilla and daughter Lisa Marie, was both inspiring and rewarding.
"I can't even put into words how much it means to me because I felt so much responsibility to them the entire time," he told PEOPLE last month. "That's the thing that would shoot me out of bed in the morning every day [during production]. I had no idea how they were going to respond. I was fully ready for them maybe not to want to watch it or not to like it or anything." Butler continued, "I feel like I'm in a dream right now because they have been so warm and welcoming."