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Filming Elvis Out-Of-Sequence Proved To Be A Major Challenge For Austin Butler

It can be challenging for an actor to play a real-life person in a movie or show. Now imagine trying to play Elvis Presley, the King of rock 'n' roll.

Elvis has been played by many actors in both television and film productions over the years, ranging from Kurt Russell to Val Kilmer. Certainly, actor Austin Butler, who plays the title role in the hit film "Elvis," felt the pressure of playing such a charismatic, powerful figure.

Butler won the part after he filmed himself channeling his grief for his deceased mother into a performance of "Unchained Melody" (via AV Club). The performer explained during an interview on "Good Morning America," "It was the most intimidating thing I've ever done. I honestly didn't sleep for about two years, and I didn't do anything else for that time. That was my life" (via UPI).

This was made even more difficult by the film's chaotic production.

Butler shot the television performances first

According to a conversation between Austin Butler and "Glass Onion" actress Janelle Monae in Variety, the "Elvis" production planned to film in sequence. This way the actor could gain some weight and come back as an older Elvis. However, Butler said, "the whole schedule got turned upside down" thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For instance, director Baz Lurhmann ended up shooting the 1968 television special sequences first. Butler called the experience "nerve-racking" because he'd been preparing for so long. He also knew this part was also crucial to the rest of his acting career. This meant that the actor was able to channel the character's own feelings, as "at that point in Elvis' life, his career was on the line and he had terror."

Ultimately, Butler ended up not seeing his family for about three years. "I had months where I wouldn't talk to anybody," Butler said. "And when I did, the only thing I was ever thinking about was Elvis. I was speaking in his voice the whole time." Yet as Butler and Monae agreed, "This is what it takes."