Austin portrayed the leading figure in Baz Luhrmann's hit film, which was released earlier this year. His performance received tons of critical acclaim, with many predicting that the actor will be in the running for an Oscar nomination next year.
But it turns out that the astounding project took a lot from Austin, who sat down alongside Janelle Monáe for Variety’sActors on Actors series to reveal the lengths he went to in order to perfect his portrayal of the late singer.
To the surprise of many observers on the internet, Austin told Janelle that while preparing for and shooting Elvis, he didn’t see his family for roughly three years.
“During Elvis, I didn't see my family for about three years,” he solemnly revealed. Janelle replied, “Oh no.”
“I was off in New York prepping with Baz, and then I went to Australia. I had months where I wouldn’t talk to anybody,” Austin went on.
“When I did, the only thing I was ever thinking about was Elvis,” he said.
And Austin then added that when he did eventually speak with his family again, he couldn’t shake off Elvis’s southern drawl. “I was speaking in his voice the whole time,” he said.
As expected, many Twitter users were left shocked by Austin’s revelation, going on to discuss just how seriously some Hollywood actors take method acting as a process.
“it’s never that serious i promise you. this is so unimpressive to me like,, if you need to do ALLL of this then,,” one person wrote.
“method actors are so insufferable… like if u don’t just clock in and out sir,” another said.
“method acting has done irreversible damage to hollywood actors,” another user added.
But Austin being stuck in character as Elvis for so long is only to be expected given how much he put into preparing for the role.
Speaking with British GQ back in May, the actor revealed that after refusing to be flown back to LA from Australia when COVID-19 protocols hindered the film’s production, he turned his apartment into a “detective scene” as he conducted as much research as possible about the real life Elvis Presley.
“You can lose touch with who you actually are. And I definitely had that when I finished Elvis — not knowing who I was,” he said.
What’s more, Austin revealed that he was “rushed to hospital” as soon as the project ended, after his body began “shutting down” when he contracted a virus that simulates appendicitis.
“The next day I woke up at four in the morning with excruciating pain, and I was rushed to hospital,” he said. “My body just started shutting down the day after I finished Elvis.”
And in spite of all this, Austin’s experience on the Elvis set was only made more difficult by the film’s director, Baz.
While Austin has repeatedly praised Baz for his leadership of the project, the actor also recalled going home “in tears” after being humiliated by him on his very first day in the recording studio.
“When I was on my first day in the recording studio, Baz wanted me to get as close to performing as possible,” Austin told VMAN in July. “He had all the executives and everybody from RCA, who were back in the offices, he brought them into the recording studio and he goes: ‘I want you all to sit facing Austin’ and he told them to heckle me.”
“So then they were making fun of me and stuff while I was singing,” he said, adding that he "went home in tears" that night.
But Austin made it clear that he ultimately found the process to be useful, saying: “When we were filming this moment when Elvis first got on stage and he’s getting heckled by the audience, I knew what that felt like.”