Totally in character! Vanessa Hudgens couldn’t help but take a playful swipe at her ex-boyfriend Austin Butler while chiming in on the debate surrounding his Elvis voice.
The High School Musical actress, 34, replied to a screenshot of a headline about Butler, 31, and his commitment to his character in Baz Luhrmann‘s 2022 biopic. “He went to the Lady Gaga school of Oscar campaign acting,” Instagram user @ryinskott captioned the Thursday, January 19, upload.
Hudgens teased in the comments section: “Crying.”
Butler received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Elvis Presley and won Best Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama at the 2023 Golden Globes earlier this month. During his acceptance speech, the California native thanked Priscilla Presley and the late Lisa Marie Presley for their support as he took on the role of a lifetime. (Lisa Marie died at age 54 two days after the awards show after going into cardiac arrest.)
Elvis also starred Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson, Dacre Montgomery and more. Production wrapped on the movie in March 2021, but fans of the Carrie Diaries alum have noticed that his speaking voice still resembles that of the King of Rock n’ Roll.
“I don’t think I sound like him still, but I guess I must because I hear it a lot,” Butler told reporters in the Golden Globes press room on January 10. “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.”
Vocal coach Irene Bartlett, meanwhile, explained the deep “connection” she saw Butler find with Elvis on the set of the biopic. “Because of COVID shutdowns, he was working on it all the time and it’s difficult to switch off something you’ve spent so much focus [and] time on,” she told ABC’s Gold Coast on Monday, January 16. “What you saw in that Golden Globes speech, that’s him. It’s genuine, it’s not put on.”
The Switched at Birth alum dated Hudgens for nearly 10 years before Us Weekly broke the news of their split in January 2020. During a 2019 episode of Live With Kelly and Ryan, the Princess Switch star hinted that she encouraged Butler to pursue his Elvis role. While retelling the story of his casting earlier this month, however, Butler failed to mention Hudgens by name.
“The month before I heard that Baz was making the movie, I was going to look at Christmas lights with a friend, and there was an Elvis Christmas song on the radio and I was singing along, and my friend looked over at me and goes, ‘You’ve got to play Elvis,’” he recalled during The Hollywood Reporter‘s Actors Roundtable. “I said, ‘Oh, that’s such a long shot.’”
He continued: “A couple of weeks later, I was playing the piano. I never really sang for any of my friends or anything. That same friend was there and I was playing the piano. She said, ‘I’m serious. You gotta figure out how you can get the rights to a script.’ Then my agent called and said, ‘So Baz Luhrmann is making an Elvis film.’”
Butler has since moved on with Kaia Gerber, while Hudgens is dating MLB athlete Cole Tucker.