The first time I met Austin Butler, we were both starting to find our grooves in what promised to be a busy awards season. We connected in a fleeting moment, one of many when we would share a hug and warm words. Despite all that swirled around him, Austin opened his heart to new friends. I was fortunate to be one of them.
I watched Elvis with a deep appreciation for all the work I knew Austin put into his performance. A lot goes into an actor’s finding their way into an icon, not pretending to be them but offering a perspective on the artist as we perform slices of their story. You walk away from that set forever changed. Your hope is that when people see the film, they don’t see you—they see an artist’s journey through a different lens. Austin accomplished this with a brilliantly nuanced performance.
On the evening of the Oscars, with Austin seated next to me, I understood intimately what he felt when it was time to learn if he would climb those stairs to the stage. So, I took his hand and held it softly as the winner was announced. Although his name wasn’t called, Austin is no less a winner. The time had come for Austin to say goodbye to Elvis as he began to embrace an infinite universe of possibilities as an actor. I can’t wait to see what he brings us next.
Bassett is an Oscar-nominated actor
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