Austin Butler Says His Body "Started Shutting Down" After Filming Elvis

In March 2021, day after Austin Butler had finished filming Elvis, the actor was rushed to the hospital. Learn more about his commitment to playing Elvis Presley and letting go of the role.

By Elyse Dupre May 25, 2022 7:02 PMTags
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Austin Butler is doing just fine (thank you, thank you very much), but he did have a bit of a health scare after he finished filming Elvis in March 2021.

"The next day I woke up at four in the morning with excruciating pain, and I was rushed to the hospital," he told GQ Hype in a new interview. "My body just started shutting down the day after I finished Elvis."

Ultimately, he was diagnosed with a virus that mimicked appendicitis and was left bedridden for a week. All in the name of art!

After all, Butler fully committed—body and soul—to portraying Elvis Presley for Baz Luhrmann's upcoming biopic. The 30-year-old landed the role after he submitted a video of himself singing "Unchained Melody" in a bathrobe and impressed the director with how much he was able to get into character. Indeed, Butler learned how to sing, speak and move like Presley and even met the singer's ex-wife Priscilla. He was also able to relate to Presley on a personal level.

"His mother passed away when he was 23, and my mom passed away when I was 23," Butler told GQ Hype. "So when I learned that, it was one of those things where I got chills, and I just thought, Okay, I can connect to that."

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While filming was set to begin in March 2020, the schedule was pushed back six months after Tom Hanks, who plays Presley's manager Colonel Tom Parker, tested positive for COVID-19. Butler used the time to further immerse himself in this world.

"Just images of Elvis everywhere, from every time period," he said while looking back at the state of his apartment. "I think the film would have been very different if we had started shooting at that point, and I'm grateful I had the time to let myself marinate."

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Once the movie wrapped, Butler struggled to let go of Presley. "You can lose touch with who you actually are," he shared. "And I definitely had that when I finished Elvis—not knowing who I was." 

However, he doesn't have to fully say goodbye to the late Grammy winner. After all, Butler can turn on Presley's tunes whenever he wants ("An American Trilogy" is one of his faves.)

"It's comforting to me now, when I get in the car. I'll just go, 'What do I want to listen to?' Usually I just end up popping on Elvis," Butler said. "I've never loved somebody I've never met more than Elvis."

Elvis hits theaters June 24.