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Austin Butler Was ‘Sort of Embarrassed’ by His Disney Channel Past

The "Elvis" star got his start in series like "Hannah Montana," "iCarly," and "Zoey 101."

Austin Butler arrives at the ONCE UPON A TIME...IN HOLLYWOOD World Premiere held at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CA on Monday, July 22, 2019. (Photo By Sthanlee B. Mirador/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Austin Butler

Sipa USA via AP

“Don’t Be Cruel” about Austin Butler’s child star past, because it led him to where he is today.

Just weeks before the “Elvis” actor jets off to Cannes for the premiere of the Baz Luhrmann historical epic, Butler revealed to Vogue that his Disney Channel roles still weigh on his mind.

“I was sort of embarrassed about some of the things that I had to do,” Butler admitted. “But I had to cut my teeth somewhere, so I decided to treat each one of these jobs as a way to grow.”

Butler made his TV debut in 2007 with back-to-back roles in “Hannah Montana,” “iCarly,” and “Zoey 101,” before later joining The CW tween dramas “Life Unexpected” and “Switched at Birth.” Butler then joined the “Sex and the City” universe in prequel series “The Carrie Diaries,” settling into a heartthrob boyfriend stereotype.

Butler opened up about “quitting acting altogether,” as Vogue reported; he went to buy the “nicest camera” he could afford in hopes of becoming a director instead.

That plan got deterred, however, when Butler was cast in Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Don’t Die.” The 2019 film kicked off his pivotal year, followed by Butler’s scene-stealing turn as a Manson Family member in Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning period piece “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.”

“It felt like the stars were aligning,” Butler reflected. “I just said, I’m going to dedicate everything I have to this.”

Now, Butler stars as Elvis Presley in Luhrmann’s musical biopic, co-starring alongside Tom Hanks, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Olivia DeJonge. Butler taped “Love Me Tender” in his bedroom to land the part, beating out Miles Teller and Harry Styles for the role.

“What I heard vocally, and more importantly, what I saw emotionally, was something that simply couldn’t be ignored,” director Luhrmann told Vogue. “From the moment I met Austin, he was carrying something of Elvis with him. He had a hint of the swagger, a touch of the sound.”

Butler converted his room to “look like a detective film” with images of Elvis to recreate his life. “I had so many hours of being put into the deep end of fear,” Butler recalled. “I learned that Elvis was very shy as a kid, and he would ask people to turn around when he played the guitar and turn off the lights in the room, and I thought, that’s how I feel now. But he overcame that. So how can I?”

After “Elvis” premieres in theaters June 24, Butler is set to star in limited series “Masters of the Air,” executive produced by “Elvis” co-star Hanks and Steven Spielberg and starring Barry Keoghan and Callum Turner. Butler also joins Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” franchise with a role in “Dune: Part Two.”

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