Bohemian Rhapsody: How Freddie Mercury star calmed Elvis movies terrified Austin Butler

ELVIS: Official second trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s movie

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Rock biopics are all the rage in Hollywood right now with the likes of Elton John’s Rocketman and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody having been huge successes in recent years. Now it’s Elvis Presley’s turn this weekend as Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis hits cinemas. Title star Austin Butler has admitted how terrified he was to take on The King of Rock and Roll, so sort advice from Freddie Mercury star Rami Malek, who won the Best Actor Oscar for playing the Queen singer.

Butler has been widely praised for his performance as Elvis, with The King’s daughter backing him for the Academy Award next year.

However, when he was first cast, he admitted: “I was nervous and afraid of the big numbers with tons of extras, to go out there and perform in front of a lot of people. I was filled with terror at that idea.”

Before filming began in early 2020, Butler contacted Malek to get the advice he well and truly needed. 

The Freddie star turned his worries around, saying: “You know what? Those days will probably end up becoming your favourite day.”

According to VOGUE, Butler shared: “He could not be more right about that… I was terrified every time before going out there… But Elvis said it as well. Those first couple songs, once you do them and you realise okay, nobody’s going to throw a rock at me, it’s all okay. Then you feel that connection and you feel how you can play with the audience. There were days I didn’t want the day to be over.”

Butler, who “marinated” himself in everything Elvis during lockdown when production was shut down for six months, continued: “There was this thing where I had an unrealistic expectation that I could somehow contort my face to look exactly like Elvis. Or I looked at other people, and I go, ‘They look more like him,’ that sort of thing – you start judging yourself. So for me, Rami was like, ‘At the end of the day, it’s not about that. You don’t want to go to the Wax Museum and just see that. You want to see your soul and his soul colliding and creating something we’ve never seen before.’”

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On how helpful Malek’s advice was, the Elvis star added: “That was so liberating to me because then I still focused on the specifics every day. I painstakingly obsessed about his voice and how it changed, his movements and how they changed, learning karate, and all of these things. But, at the end of the day, it was [Elvis’s] humanity that was important to me, so that became the throughline to the rest of it.”

Elvis is out now in cinemas and Bohemian Rhapsody is streaming on Netflix, Disney+ and All 4.


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