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Why "Elvis" Star Austin Butler Was Rushed to Hospital and Spent a Week in Bed 

Austin Butler opens up at SAG Awards about how the role of Elvis landed him in the hospital. 

Austin Butler brilliantly transformed into playing the King of Rock 'n' Roll, which he called "the greatest ride of my life," but it came at a price. The award-winning actor poured everything he had into making director Baz Luhrmann's vision of Elvis, but it landed him in the hospital with a" virus that simulates appendicitis," PEOPLE magazine reports.

At the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, Butler told the outlet in between gigs, "I had a week of downtime, where I actually ended up in the hospital. I didn't get sick the entire time I filmed [Elvis] but the day I finished, I ended up in the emergency room." He added, "So I spent a week in bed and then I went to this other job," he added. But that's not the only issue the star faced. Read on to learn more. 

Austin Butler Didn't See His Family For Three Years While Prepping for "Elvis"

Warner Bros. Pictures

Butler is dedicated! When he got the news he had won the lead role as Elvis, he got so serious about the project that literally didn't do anything but focus on his dream gig. During an "Actors on Actors" interview for Variety with Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery actress Janelle Monáe where he shared the sacrifices he made.

"During Elvis, I didn't see my family for about three years. I was prepping with Baz, and then I went to Australia. I had months where I wouldn't talk to anybody," the actor said. "And when I did, the only thing I was ever thinking about was Elvis. I was speaking in his voice the whole time…This is what it takes."

"My Body Just Started Shutting Down"


The Golden Globe winner first revealed his infamous role took a toll on him last year. In a May 2022 interview with British GQ, Butler opened up about waking up "at 4 in the morning with excruciating pain" and being "rushed to hospital," "My body just started shutting down the day after I finished Elvis," he continued.

The Star Also Lost His Voice While Performing

Warner Bros. Pictures

In addition to being hospitalized with a virus, the 31-year-old also lost his voice and had to take a break. It happened when he was performing Elvis' version of Never Been to Spain. The actor explained, "We did so many takes. And at a certain point, I just lost my voice. So then I went on vocal rest for a couple days, and I was able to come back."

The Hard Work Paid Off

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Butler has picked up a slew of awards for his portrayal of Elvis and earned an Oscar nom, but the journey hasn't been easy. Besides the tremendous amount of preparation he went through to become the music legend, he had to shoot out of sequence because of COVID, which was challenging for the star. In the "Actors on Actors" interview, Butler shared, "It was so nerve-racking because I had a year and a half before that point to prepare. And all the preparation is for nothing if you don't get it," Butler said.

"Before walking out onstage, I really had the terror: 'My career feels like it's on the line in this moment.' But at that point in Elvis' life, his career was on the line and he had terror." He also revealed he had to learn to dance in front of others because he rarely did before. "I've only had a couple moments before filming 'Elvis' where I danced in public, because I was very, very shy. I'd always be a wallflower at a party," the actor explained.

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Butler Has His Ex-Girlfriend to Thank for Encouraging Him to Take the Role


For nearly a decade, Butler dated High School Musical alum Vanessa Hudgens who encouraged him to audition for the role. She talked about the moment when she told her then-partner he'd be perfect for the film Live With Kelly and Ryan. "It's so crazy because last December, we were driving along and we were listening to Christmas music, and then an Elvis Presley Christmas song came on. He had just dyed his hair dark—he's a natural-blonde blonde—and I was looking at him and he was singing along and I was like, 'Babe, you need to play Elvis. I don't know how, but I'm serious. You need to play him.' Then in January, he was sitting at the piano—he's a musician—and he's playing and he's singing and I'm like, 'I don't know how, but we need to figure out how you can play Elvis. Like, I don't know how we get rights or what we do, but you need to play him.'" 

Shortly after he got the role, the couple ended their relationship, but Butler did confirm to the LA Times it was Hudgens who believed in him from the start. "I was with my partner at the time…that's right. 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." Butler has since moved on with Kaia Gerber and Hudgens is newly engaged to Cole Tucker.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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