Elvis Star Recalls The Big Heads Up Leonardo DiCaprio Gave Him Before Playing The Icon For Baz Luhrmann

Austin Butler and Leonardo DiCaprio
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann is renowned for putting together lavish and intricate films featuring gorgeous details, and that makes him pretty much the perfect person to create the new movie release Elvis. Austin Butler plays the titular music icon, and his performance in the film has been praised by fans. Interestingly, it sounds like the actor got some solid advice from none other than Luhrmann film vet Leonardo DiCaprio ahead of working with Luhrmann on his music-infused biopic.

While you’d be hard pressed to recognize the hair slicked, rhinestone clad Elvis actor as the Charles Manson cult member Tex Watson, Austin Butler did indeed play both characters who were based on real life people. As for the latter, he acted opposite Leonardo DiCaprio as the character in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood… and, at some point, Butler got some scary, yet sound advice from the A-lister about working with Baz Luhrmann. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Butler revealed that DiCaprio told him that Luhrmann was going to push him to his acting limits to find new abilities that he didn’t even know he possessed. Here’s how Butler relayed that advice:

Leo told me, ‘Baz is going to constantly keep you off balance, and it’s going to pull things out of you [that] you never knew you had inside you. That’s exactly the experience that I had.

One would think that it would be incredibly intimidating to work with such a prolific director, who has such a unique style. But while he may be unconventional, it's hard to argue with the results when you're watching the movie playing on the big screen. the same interview, the actor explained that he would often be directed to go further than what was prepared, and it had some great effects, even if it caused some discomfort for him at first. He explained:

There were days where I just thought, ‘Baz, why don’t we just do what we prepared?' I realized that he would push me right to the edge of what I was capable of. You capture lightning in a bottle in a way — if you had just done the thing that you had prepared, it may have been more stale.

Whatever Baz Luhrmann and Austin Butler did together during filming created something that people are pretty thrilled about, because this past weekend it fought with the incredibly successful Top Gun: Maverick at the box office. The movie has impressed more than just fans, as the late musician’s ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, expressed high praise for it and how it portrayed the music icon.

Austin Butler is certainly one to look out for in Hollywood as his career continues, and his time under Baz Luhrmann will certainly be as invaluable for him as it apparently was for a young Leonardo DiCaprio back in the day. I'd say that the future is certainly bright for Butler, and I look forward to seeing the other roles that he takes as time goes on.

Elvis is currently in theaters and although it leaves out one particularly cold story tied to The King’s death, it has been praised for its authenticity and for also putting on a pretty swell show, as you would expect with a film from Baz Luhrmann.

Carlie Hoke
Content Writer

Constantly thinking about books, coffee, and the existential dread I feel from Bo Burnham’s Inside.  While writing I’m also raising a chaotic toddler, who may or may not have picked up personality traits from watching one too many episodes of Trailer Park Boys.