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Rami Malek’s Advice to Austin Butler for Elvis: “You Want to See Your Soul and His Soul Colliding”

Austin Butler in and as Elvis

Austin Butler bagged a phenomenal and challenging role when he signed the deal for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. The actor is currently busy promoting the film and has received appreciation for his stellar portrayal of the Rock ‘n’ Roll icon, however, Butler was not always very confident about the task at hand. “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”, shares the actor in behind-the-scenes footage from Elvis. “I was filled with terror at that idea.”

But ahead of the shoot, the actor took some advice from his contemporary, Rami Malek, who won an Academy Award in 2019 for his portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, to soothe his nervousness. “He said, ‘You know what? Those days will probably end up becoming your favorite days,'” Butler recalls, sharing the Egyptian actor’s experience from his role. “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 realize OK, nobody’s going to throw a rock at me, it’s all OK.”

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody

“Then you feel that connection and you feel how you can play with the audience,” he adds. “There were days I didn’t want the day to be over.” The 30-year-old also shared how the production for the film had to be paused for around six months due to Covid-19 restrictions and how it helped him to “marinate” and process everything.  “There was this thing where I had an unrealistic expectation that I could somehow contort my face to look exactly like Elvis,” Butler shares. “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.'”

He also 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 hits theatres later this month, on June 24. The film has an ensemble cast starring Tom Hanks, Olivia Dejonge, Kelvin Harrison J., Alton Mason, and Yola with Butler playing the title role.

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