How a “Cold Call” From Denzel Washington Helped Austin Butler Score Elvis Role

Elvis director Baz Luhrmann revealed that a phone call from Denzel Washington convinced him to cast Austin Butler in the role of Elvis Presley in new biopic.

Is Denzel Washington the “king” of casting? Sounds like it.

During a May 12 interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Baz Luhrmann shared how a phone call from the Tragedy of Macbeth actor helped Austin Butler snag the role of Elvis Presley in his upcoming film Elvis.

“I received this videotape of this young man in a flood of tears playing ‘Unchained Melody,’ and I thought, ‘Wow, what is that? How is that happening?'” Baz said. “And then I got a call from Denzel Washington, who gave me a cold call. I did not know Denzel. And he said, ‘I’ve just worked with this guy on stage. I’ve never seen a work ethic like it.'”

After speaking to Denzel, the Australian director said he had to go check out Austin for himself. “Honestly, I put him through the ringer, but he lived Elvis,” he told EW. “What he’s managed to do is not do an impersonation, but to live Elvis, to the extent that he’s humanized him.”

And Baz isn’t the only one singing Austin’s praises for his performance in the Elvis biopic.

Last month, the late singer’s ex-wife Priscilla Presley and his close pal Jerry Schilling saw a private screening of Elvis, which is slated to hit theaters this June, and had nothing but great things to say about the film.

“Austin Butler, who played Elvis is outstanding,” Priscilla wrote on Facebook on April 29. “Halfway through the film Jerry and I looked at each other and said WOW!!! Bravo to him…he knew he had big shoes to fill.”Austin Butler, 2022 MET Gala, Red Carpet FashionMike Coppola/Getty Images

Aside from a physical transformation, Austin told the Hollywood Reporter in February that he “set out” to make his voice identical to the “Hound Dog” singer.

“I watched as much as I could, over and over,” he said, referencing Elvis’ films and shows. “I feel such a responsibility to Elvis and to Priscilla and [daughter] Lisa Marie, and all the people around the world who love him so much.”

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