In a new interview, Elvis casting director Denise Chamian, C.S.A., revealed why they went with Austin Butler over the likes of Harry Styles.

At this point, it’s clear that if you haven’t heard the name Austin Butler being thrown around on the internet, you’re living under a rock. Butler’s latest endeavour Elvis, directed by Baz Luhrmann and based on the life of Elvis Presley, has already been named one of the most acclaimed titles of this year – even becoming Australia’s second-biggest opening ever.

So, yeah, he’s a big deal. In fact, while in the running for the part, Butler was up against some pretty big names. We’re talking Harry Styles, Miles Teller, and Ansel Elgort.

While Luhrmann has opened up about why he didn’t choose Styles – stating that the latter was ‘already an icon‘ – the movie’s casting director Denise Chamian, C.S.A., has now revealed why they thought Butler was the best Presley.

In an interview with Variety, Chamian cited his ‘maturity level’ as one of the reasons that made Butler stand out.

Chamian recalled Butler’s audition for a part in Top Gun: Maverick, something she claimed he came close to getting: “I saw that this actor has something very special that other people don’t always have. It’s almost the way he looks into the camera. He knows the camera and lets the camera see him, and that is really what is so captivating.”

Despite Butler being ‘pretty much unknown’ in the audition pool, Chamian claimed his charm and maturity was what did it – enough for her to claim to Luhrmann early on that he would be Elvis.

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“He got to a certain maturity level in auditioning for Top Gun: Maverick. When I started casting Elvis, Baz wanted to do a worldwide search — which we did. We went all over the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We even went to London.” she recalled.

“We did open casting calls online and even looked at Elvis impersonators, but from the very beginning, there was something about Austin to me that was a little reminiscent of Elvis.” she added.

At this point, Chamian also knew that Luhrmann already had a few names in mind.

“When I sat down with Baz, he knew he had certain people that he wanted to test. He had Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller. There was a group of guys that he was circling. He later added Harry Styles to that.” she said.

“I had a list of my own people. When we got to Austin, I said, ‘This is your Elvis,’ and Baz just looked at me. It’s a pretty big statement to make.” she said.

Shortly after, Butler did screen-tests and sent in a recording of his version of ‘Unchained Melody’.

“He sat down at a piano. He’d had a dream about his mom who had passed away a few years ago, so there was a feeling of melancholy. He went in and just recorded it. He sent it to his agent, and his agent sent it to me. I thought it was amazing and said we are going to hold onto this until his audition, and we’ll send this.” she recalled.

“Austin’s work ethic is also what sets him apart, and his ability to understand material and translate that and make it feel so honest. I think that honesty is also what the audience feels. He works tirelessly to get something right. By the end of the movie, he left it all up there on the screen. I thought it was just incredible.” Chamian said of the star.

Elvis can be seen in cinemas now.

For more on this topic, follow the Film & TV Observer.

Check out the trailer for Elvis: 

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