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The Advice Bohemian Rhapsody's Rami Malek Gave To Austin Butler While The Actor Was Filming Elvis

The way that Elvis co-star Tom Hanks described it when appearing on CinemaBlend’s official podcast ReelBlend, Austin Butler essentially is playing Jesus, in a movie titled Jesus. The full focus falls on Butler as he attempts to play The King for Baz Luhrmann’s rewarding biopic Elvis, now in theaters. And while the movie has earned incredibly valuable praise from the Presley family regarding his performance (really, it’s the best review he could have gotten), the actor admits to being very nervous while diving into specific scenes during the production, and they involve his need to sing live in front of an audience. 

One of the coolest aspects of Elvis is that Baz Luhrmann stages actual concerts that signify the different stages of Elvis Presley’s career. They begin around Memphis, when the upstart singer was dragging himself away from screaming female fans. They continue through a major, televised Christmas concert (that ruffled the singer’s feathers), and ends up in Las Vegas in the fading days of the star’s career. Butler ended up hospitalized after filming wrapped, but that had nothing to do with his fears, which came from singing. During press days for Elvis, Butler told CinemaBlend that to get over their fears, he leaned on a very famous friend, explaining:

For one, I was really nervous about that. Because I’d never performed in front of a crowd before. I never sang in front of anybody except my very close friends before. And I was talking about this the other day, but in a moment of panic, I called Rami Malek and I was like, ‘How did it feel? What did you go through?’ and all of those things. He said, ‘You know, really, those days, you end up feeling the energy of the audience, and it becomes this thing where, those will probably end up becoming your favorite days on set.’ And it was so true.

Austin Butler learned from Rami Malek’s experience playing Freddie Mercury in the Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody. There were stories that Malek insisted the Live Aid scene for that movie be filmed in one take, which definitely contributed to the overall energy of the sequence. And a similar approach helps Butler command the screen in Elvis. He talks in our interview above about how the girls in the audience gave him so much emotion to play off of while filming the singing scenes in Elvis, so that if they were swooning or screaming or crying, it helped add to the atmosphere of the scene… as Rami Malek no doubt could have told him. 

Of course, Rami Malek went on to win the Oscar for playing Freddie Mercury on the screen, and many have similar hopes for Butler. He definitely stood out in CinemaBlend’s review of the film, and Oscar analysts are already making statements about penciling Butler’s name onto the Oscar ballot for next year. We shall see how that all pans out, but of Butler thanks Rami Malek from the stage at the Oscars, now you know why. 

Sean O'Connell
Sean O'Connell

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.