In fact, she was the one who encouraged him to go for the position in the first place after noticing how closely he resembled the late rock ’n’ roll icon.
“It's so crazy because last December we were driving along and we were listening to Christmas music, and then an Elvis Presley Christmas song came on,” she recalled during a 2019 appearance on Live With Kelly and Ryan.
“He had just dyed his hair dark — he’s a natural blonde — and I was looking at him and he was singing along and I was like, ‘Babe, you need to play Elvis,’” she shared.
Vanessa continued, “Then in January, he was sitting at the piano — he’s a musician — and he’s playing and he’s singing and I’m like, 'I don’t know how, but you need to figure out how you can play Elvis. Like, I don’t know how we get rights or what we do, but you need to play him.’”
Lo and behold, Austin ended up landing the role of Elvis in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic, which came out last summer. However, he and Vanessa broke up while the film was in the works, with reports claiming that it was “a matter of distance” that resulted in their split after nearly a decade together.
Following the film’s release, Austin has seen huge success thanks to his incredible performance.
However, fans have noticed that he’s avoided publicly crediting Vanessa for her contribution to the entire thing.
For example, at the Golden Globes last week, Austin accepted the award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama. While thanking everyone from Denzel Washington and Brad Pitt to Quentin Tarantino and the Presley family, he made no mention of Vanessa.
“Still waiting for Austin Butler to thank Vanessa Hudgens in his acceptance speech #GoldenGlobes2023,” one viewer at home tweeted.
This wasn’t the only time he failed to mention Vanessa in reference to playing Elvis. Last week, Austin went a step further and actually retold the story of how she encouraged him to go for the role, but he didn’t mention her name.
“So I was looking at Christmas lights, and there was an Elvis Christmas song on the radio,” Austin told Colin Farrell, Brendan Fraser, Jeremy Pope, Ke Huy Quan, and Adam Sandler during the Hollywood Reporter’s Actors Roundtable.
“I was with a friend of mine and I was singing along, and my friend kind of looked over at me and goes, ‘You gotta play Elvis,’” he recalled.
“A couple of weeks later, I was playing the piano. I never really sang for any of my friends or anything,” he went on. “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.’”
Austin referring to Vanessa as an unnamed “friend” rubbed several fans the wrong way, especially given how successful the film has been since its release.
And it was only a matter of time before Vanessa weighed in on the conversation herself.
Leaving a short but sweet comment on an Instagram post about Austin’s deep Southern Elvis accent, which he has continued speaking in since filming wrapped, Vanessa wrote, “Crying.”
Some people praised the actor for so candidly responding to the news about her ex, especially considering he didn’t credit her for encouraging him to play Elvis.
“And that’s why she’s a queen,” one person wrote.
“vanessa hudgens ended austin butler 20 year long elvis impression with 1 word,” another said.
“i love her even more for commenting this,” someone else added.
However, others questioned why Vanessa felt the need to leave the comment altogether, calling the entire thing unnecessary.
“But like why did she feel it necessary to do that? Miss girls a lil obsessed…” someone wrote.