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Austin Butler defends calling ex Vanessa Hudgens a ‘friend’ after dating for almost 10 years


Austin Butler clarified that his description of Vanessa Hudgens as an “old friend” in a previous interview was not meant to diminish her significance in his life. Instead, he aimed to protect her from excessive media scrutiny by downplaying their past relationship.

“Oh, yeah, I learned a lesson with that one,” the 32-year-old said when asked about the label in the interview published Tuesday.


“I felt that I was respecting her privacy in a way and not wanting to bring up a ton of things that would cause her to have to talk,” the Oscar nominee continued.

“I have so much love and care for her. It was in no way trying to erase anything.”

Butler stated that the couple has been together for a “long time” and that he “didn’t want to give up anybody else’s privacy” since he loves his own “so much.”

Following criticism for his remarks during The Hollywood Reporter’s 2023 Actor Roundtable, Austin Butler clarified his statement about Vanessa Hudgens, his former partner of nearly a decade.

Butler had shared that a “friend” encouraged him to pursue the role of Elvis Presley, prompting speculation that he was distancing himself from Hudgens.

“The month before I heard that [director] Baz [Luhrmann] was making the [Elvis] movie, I was going to look at Christmas lights with a friend,” the Golden Globe winner explained.

“And there was an Elvis Christmas song on the radio, and I was singing along, and my friend looked over at me and goes, ‘You’ve gotta play Elvis!’”

Despite Butler’s belief that it was a “long shot,” the nameless buddy, also known as Hudgens, persisted.

“A couple of weeks later, I was playing the piano,” he continued at the time. “I never really sang for any of my friends or anything.”

“That same friend was there and I was playing the piano. She said, ‘I’m serious. You gotta figure out how you can get the rights to a script.’”

A few days later, Butler’s representative contacted to inform him that Luhrmann was creating a film about the Jailhouse Rock singer.

“And the hairs just stood up on my arms,” he recalled.

Although Butler did not identify Hudgens by name, viewers instantly understood he was referring to the Spring Breakers actress, who had previously shared the identical tale on Live with Kelly and Ryan.

“Last December, we were driving along and we were listening to Christmas music, and then an Elvis Presley Christmas song came on,” she told Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest in August 2019 — one month after her then-boyfriend landed the role.

“He had just dyed his hair dark. He’s a natural blonde, and I was looking at him and he was singing along and I was like, ‘Babe, you need to play Elvis.’”

She was even more sure that Butler was the right guy for the position after hearing him sing while playing the piano a month later.

“And he’s playing and he’s singing and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how, but you need to figure out how you can play Elvis,’” she recalled. “‘Like, I don’t know how we get rights or what we do, but you need to play him.’”

Despite their breakup in January 2020, which coincided with Butler’s departure to Australia for filming, Vanessa Hudgens’ vision for Butler ultimately materialized. Although initially not mentioned by name in his discussions about the role, Butler later acknowledged Hudgens’ influence in encouraging him to audition for the role of Elvis Presley.

“I was with my partner at the time,” he told the Los Angeles Times a few weeks after facing backlash over the apparent diss.

“We’d been together for so long and she had this sort of clairvoyant moment and so I really, I owe her a lot for believing in me.”

Both Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler have moved forward from their breakup. Butler is currently in a relationship with model Kaia Gerber, while Hudgens recently tied the knot with baseball player Cole Tucker.






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