When every news outlet in 2019 was listing all of the male frontrunners in the talks to play Elvis Presley in a biopic directed by Baz Luhrmann, it had been a good amount of years since I heard Austin Butler’s name in the headlines pertaining to the film. I knew in the previous year he was starring in The Iceman Cometh on Broadway with Denzel Washington, but little did I know that 2019 was just the beginning for Butler. He played a small role in the Jim Jarmusch film The Dead Don’t Die, and a larger role in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. Just the day before the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood premiere, Austin Butler was cast in Elvis. Now, just days away from the 2023 Oscars ceremony, Butler has clearly taken Hollywood by storm.
As a former Disney/Nickelodeon actor in shows such as Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place and the fan favorite Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, it is not a surprise that the Folino Theater was full of students who grew up alongside Austin Butler on screen.
Butler shared plenty of stories about his early career and the checkpoints that led him to his audition for Elvis, but the most interesting story he told that night (one I have never heard in the many interviews I have watched of him) was about the night he finally finished shooting the film.
“The project ends. I go to bed. And then I woke up at about 4 in the morning. It felt like a knife was stabbing me in the stomach. I tried to get up and I couldn’t stand up. I started Googling on my phone What is pain in stomach? The worst things come up, but everything seemed to point to appendicitis. I called my manager and said ‘I can’t stand, I don’t know what going on, can you tell me what to do?”
One of the producers for the film picked him up and drove him to the hospital. They started prepping him and doing all these tests. The doctors also thought his appendix had burst and they were going to prep him for surgery to get it removed. Austin Butler said to them,
“Are you sure? Could we do like a CAT scan or something? and they said Ok, we’ll do that.”
Turns out it wasn’t his appendix. It was just a virus that stimulates the same feeling that appendicitis does.
“I didn’t get sick the entire time I was filming this movie. It’s crazy how your body holds on.”
Butler has a couple of projects currently in the works: Dune 2, The Bikeriders and Masters of the Air. He has a long and rewarding career in front of him and the students of Dodge College will cheer for him every step of the way.
Keep an eye out for the rest of Dodge’s Master Classes this semester!