Austin Butler Says Tom Hanks Was Concerned for His ‘Mental Health’ After ‘Elvis’ Role

Austin Butler says Tom Hanks recruited him to star in the new miniseries Masters of the Air after being impressed by his commitment to Elvis.

In a recently published The Sunday Times profile, Butler, 31, said that Hanks pitched the World War II-focused miniseries to him while they were at dinner some time after completing last year’s Elvis, in which Butler starred as legendary musician Elvis Presley and Hanks, 67, portrayed Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker.

“ ‘You have immersed yourself so deeply in Elvis that, for your mental health, it would be wise to go straight into something else,’ ” Butler recalled Hanks saying during that dinner. ” ‘If you just jump off the train, you might have emotional whiplash . . . ‘ ”

” ‘And, you know, I’ve got this thing I’m producing,’ ” the actor added to the outlet of Hanks’ pitch.

Butler famously grew attached to speaking in Presley’s accent even months after the film released in June 2022. In February, he said he was finally “getting rid of the accent” as he prepared to film his role in the upcoming Dune: Part Two.

Warner Bros.

“It’s what I realised doing Elvis — that forced me to go to the very edge of what is possible, and not every experience will be like that,” he told The Sunday Times of his experience filming the Baz Luhrmann-directed movie. Butler received an Academy Award nomination for the role, though Brendan Fraser ultimately won the award for Best Actor for his performance in The Whale.

“I don’t think I’ll ever have an experience like that again, but if I have to really dig, it makes me feel alive,” Butler added to the outlet.

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After Butler won a Golden Globe Award in January for Elvis, the actor said backstage that he “didn’t even think about” whether he might’ve been still using some of the character’s distinct cadence in his acceptance speech.

“I don’t think I sound like him still, but I guess I must because I hear it all the time,” Butler said at the time. “I often liken it to when somebody lives in another country for a long time. I had three years where that was my only focus, so I’m sure there’s pieces of him in my DNA and I will always be linked to him.”

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The actor’s new miniseries Masters of the Air follows a group of American military airmen with the 100th Bomb Group during World War II, according to Apple TV+’s official page for the show. The series, produced by Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman, serves as the third World War II-focused drama the trio have created, following 2001’s Band of Brothers and 2010’s The Pacific. The series does not yet have a release date.

Butler will next appear as the antagonist Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in Dune: Part Two alongside costars Timotheé Chalamet, Zendaya and Stellan Skarsgard, among others. The movie releases Nov. 3.

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