Tom Hanks Was Concerned for Austin Butler's Mental Health After ‘Elvis’

Austin Butler landed one of his upcoming projects partially because of Tom Hanks’ concern for his well-being following Elvis

“You have immersed yourself so deeply in Elvis that, for your mental health, it would be wise to go straight into something else,” Butler, 31, recalled Hanks, 67, telling him during a Sunday, August 13, interview with The Times of London. “If you just jump off the train, you might have emotional whiplash … and, you know, I’ve got this thing I’m producing.’”

In addition to Dune: Part 2, which premieres in November, Butler is slated to appear in the Apple TV+’s Masters of the Air, executive produced by Hanks — who starred in Elvis alongside Butler — and Steven Spielberg. The miniseries serves as the third installment to Hanks and Spielberg’s acclaimed WWII saga after Band of Brothers and The Pacific.

Butler’s Elvis performance earned him the 2023 Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama, along with nominations at the 2023 Academy Awards, BAFTAs and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Butler was awarded in part for his three-year preparation for the role, which included him hoovering donuts and guzzling melted Häagen-Dazs ice cream to quickly gain a bunch of weight to play the older Elvis. 

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“I heard that Ryan Gosling, when he was going to do The Lovely Bones, had microwaved Häagen-Dazs and would drink it. So, I started doing that,” Butler explained during a February episode of the “Variety Awards Circuit” podcast. “I would go get two dozen doughnuts and eat them all. I really started to pack on some pounds. It’s fun for a week or so, and then you feel awful with yourself.”

Butler prepared so well that he seemed to have trouble letting go of the character — even making headlines for continuing to speak with Elvis’ southern drawl well after he wrapped the movie. (Butler grew up in Southern California.)

“I don’t think I sound like him still, but I guess I must because I hear it a lot,” he told reporters at the Golden Globes in January. “I had three years where that was my only focus. So, I’m sure there’s pieces of him in my DNA and I’ll always be linked.”

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On Sunday, Butler told The Times of London that Elvis forced him “to go to the very edge of what is possible,” calling it an experience he likely won’t ever have again. “But if I have to really dig, it makes me feel alive,” he explained. 

Butler pushed himself so hard filming the biopic that he “woke up at four in the morning with excruciating pain” the day after filming — something that eventually landed him in the hospital. “My body just started shutting down the day after I finished Elvis,” he told GQ in May 2022. He was later diagnosed with a virus that simulated appendicitis, leaving him bedridden for one week.

Austin Butler Through the Years: His Road to ‘Elvis’

One month later, Butler opened up about why Elvis stuck with him well after director Baz Luhrmann’s final “cut.”

“I didn’t do anything else for two years [apart from working on Elvis], that’s such a large chunk of life. I’m not surprised that it clicks in,” Butler told Elle Australia in June 2022. “Because I’m a shy person, and when I know that there’s bits of Elvis that I’d have to click into in order to go out on stage and be in front of a ton of people, being surrounded by his name everywhere, there’s triggers. You spend so much time obsessing about one thing, and it really is like muscular habits, your mouth can change.”

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