A new king has been crowned, with “Elvis” star Austin Butler winning the Golden Globe award for best actor in a motion picture, drama.
The actor, a first-time Golden Globe nominee, faced stiff competition in the category, which also included Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”), Hugh Jackman (“The Son”), Bill Nighy (“Living”) and Jeremy Pope (“The Inspection”).
“Oh, man, all my words are leaving me. I just am so grateful right now. I’m in this room full of my heroes,” Butler began before voicing his admiration for his “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” co-star Brad Pitt and director Quentin Tarantino.
“I owe this to a bold, visionary filmmaker who allowed me the experience to take risks and I always knew I would be supported. I love you, Baz Luhrmann,” Butler continued. “Thank you for believing in me in those moments that I didn’t even believe in myself. I’m so grateful to you. I also want to thank my dance partner, the greatest dance partner I could have ever hoped for, Mr. Tom Hanks.”
Butler also expressed thanks to Denzel Washington, who he starred alongside on the 2018 Broadway production of “The Iceman Cometh,” as well as his sister, his late mother, his father and the family of Elvis Presley.
“Lastly, Elvis Presley himself, you are an icon and a rebel. I love you so much. Thank you. You are remembered and I will never forget thank you! “
Butler stars as Elvis Presley in the Luhrmann-directed film, which has electrified audiences since its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last summer, where it received a 12-minute standing ovation.
To portray the King of Rock and Roll, the actor completely immersed himself in Presley’s world, prepping for more than a year and a half before filming began. In that time, Butler studied Presley’s every quirk and inflection, ultimately learning to speak, sing (it’s Butler’s voice in the film’s early performance numbers) and move like him.
In conversation with Janelle Monáe (“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”) for Variety’s Actors on Actors, Butler reflected on filming his first performance number (Elvis’ 1968 comeback television special) on just the second day of production.
“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 recalled. “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.”
The award-winning performance marks a breakthrough moment for Butler, who’s best known for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” The Dead Don’t Die” and “The Carrie Diaries.” He recently wrapped production on “Dune: Part Two.”