Austin Butler caught some heat from fans earlier this month when he referred to his ex-girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens as an unnamed “friend” when discussing how he landed the role of Elvis Presley in the 2022 Baz Luhrmann biopic for The Hollywood Reporter‘s Actor’s Roundtable.
However, in a new interview with The Los Angeles Times, Butler cleared up that the friend was in fact Hudgens, whom he dated for nearly a decade before the duo split in 2020. “I was with my partner at the time,” he told the reporter, who recalled Butler’s story, in which he was in the car when his “friend” heard him singing along to an Elvis song and encouraged him to seek out the role of the King of Rock and Roll.
“The month before I heard that Baz was making the movie, I was going to look at Christmas lights with a friend, and there was an Elvis Christmas song on the radio and I was singing along, and my friend looked over at me and goes, ‘You’ve got to play Elvis.’ I said, ‘Oh, that’s such a long shot,’” Butler said during the THR interview, without mentioning Hudgens by name. Fans pieced together that the High School Musical star was the subject of the story, as she told a nearly identical anecdote back on a 2019 episode of Live with Kelly and Ryan.
When the LA Times reporter followed up, asking if the person in the car was Hudgens, Butler agreed. “We’d been together for so long and she had this sort of clairvoyant moment and so I really, I owe her a lot for believing in me,” he shared.