Of the dozen-plus first-time Oscar nominees anointed on Tuesday, did anyone work harder for it than Austin Butler? Not only did he painstakingly reproduce Elvis Presley’s accent (permanently changing the architecture of his mouth, as Butler himself might put it) and learn how to sing to mimic The King’s performances, but he also ingratiated himself with Presley’s actual family, who supported him on his awards season spree. Lisa Marie Presley died shortly after cheering him on to a Golden Globes win. And now that Butler has secured the Academy Award nod, it’s Elvis’ daughter who’s on his mind.
“It’s a bittersweet moment right now because I just wish that Lisa was here to celebrate with us,” Butler said to Deadline. “But you know, I try to focus on how this can be a moment of honoring her.”
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, he emphasized the difficulty of the role: “[This role] seemed as though it was this impossible mountain to climb in front of me. There were so many pitfalls and so I just was focusing on one step at a time.” He continued, “And really the thing for me was just honoring the life of this man and his family. And that’s why those moments when Lisa Marie and Priscilla [Presley] got to see the film and then I first saw them after… nothing I would do would ever top that. And especially with Lisa Marie not being here with us. I just wish she was here to celebrate today with us.”
Butler told Deadline that Lisa Marie was “just amazing” and that he’d “never felt the experience where I got so close to somebody so fast.” To THR, he reflected, “She was the most straightforward and supportive person. I know from all the times that we got to celebrate together how we would celebrate today, you know, and I wish she and Elvis were here to get to experience this time.”
Butler went on to say he was “most grateful for” being able to spend time with Lisa Marie and “getting to live for three years exploring the life of her father.” He added, “But nothing compares to that moment I looked in her eyes after she first saw the film, where she told me how much it meant to her. I’ll really cherish that for the rest of my life.”