Austin Butler 'Went Home in Tears' After 'Elvis' Director Had People Heckle Him to Get into Character

Austin Butler recalls people "making fun of" him while he was recording music for Elvis, which Baz Luhrmann orchestrated to help him get into character

Austin Butler attends a special screening of 'Elvis', hosted by Warner Bros. and British GQ, at The Ham Yard Hotel on May 30, 2022 in London, England
Austin Butler. Photo: Dave Benett/Getty

Austin Butler tapped into the emotions required to play Elvis Presley in a way he didn't anticipate, thanks to Baz Luhrmann.

The 30-year-old actor recalls in a cover interview with VMAN for the magazine's Fall-Winter 2022 issue how he "went home in tears" after Elvis director Luhrmann, 59, told people to "heckle" Butler while he was recording music for the film.

"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."

"So then they were making fun of me and stuff while I was singing," he added.

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ELVIS, Austin Butler as Elvis Presley, 2022.
Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

But the uncomfortable moment ended up helping Butler during a specific 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."

Butler told VMAN that he had been warned about Luhrmann's methods by Leonardo DiCaprio, who worked with the filmmaker 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.' "

RELATED VIDEO: Austin Butler Had "No Idea How" Elvis Presley's Family "Were Going to Respond" to His Portrayal

Butler has been open about the hurdles he overcame to play the King of Rock 'n Roll, including both physical and mental challenges.

And while the actor has netted positive reviews for his portrayal of the late icon, receiving genuine praise from Presley's family directly — ex-wife Priscilla, daughter Lisa Marie and granddaughter Riley Keough, specifically — has Butler feeling both relief and gratitude.

"I can't even put into words how much it means to me because I felt so much responsibility to them the entire time," the actor 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."

He added, "I feel like I'm in a dream right now because they have been so warm and welcoming."

Elvis is in theaters now.

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