Austin Butler: Biography, Actor, ‘Dune: Part Two’


Who Is Austin Butler?

Actor Austin Butler is best known for portraying Elvis Presley in the 2022 musical biopic Elvis. He began his career appearing in TV shows for children and teens, such as Zoey 101 and The Carrie Diaries, a prequel spinoff of Sex and the City. He also acted on Broadway with Denzel Washington before receiving his breakout movie roles in 2019’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, playing Manson Family member Tex Watson, as well as the titular role in Elvis. The latter earned Butler a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination. He currently stars in the Apple TV+ miniseries Masters of the Air and the science-fiction drama Dune: Part Two.

Quick Facts

FULL NAME: Austin Robert Butler
BORN: August 17, 1991
BIRTHPLACE: Anaheim, California

Early Life and Parents

Austin Robert Butler was born on August 17, 1991, in Anaheim, California. His father, David, is a real estate appraiser, and his mother, Lori Anne, was an aesthetician who later ran a daycare out of the family’s home. Austin also has an older sister named Ashley.

When Austin was 7, David and Lori Anne amicably divorced. Afterward, he and his sister split time between their respective parents’ homes.

All the while, Butler remained very close to his mom. He told Vogue that although his parents didn’t have a lot of money while he was growing up, Lori Anne would buy season passes to nearby Disneyland theme park for him and his sister. He frequently walked home from school to eat lunch with his mom and has said some of his favorite memories are watching Saturday Night Live with her.

Lori Anne died of cancer in September 2014, when Austin was only 23 years old. The actor has the number 27 tattooed on his wrist in tribute, as she called it her “God number” and felt God was looking out for her whenever it appeared. Butler also paid tribute to his mom when he hosted SNL in December 2022. “My mom is no longer with us, but I’ve been thinking a lot about her this week, just imagining how proud she’d be (that) her son, who used to not be able to order food for myself at a restaurant, is now standing on this stage,” he said.

As these remarks hint at, Butler said he experienced “crippling shyness” as a child and told Numéro magazine he still deals with those feelings as an adult. However, that timidity didn’t stop him from embarking on an acting career as a teenager.

Butler was 13 when a talent manager approached him at the Orange County Fair and sparked his interest in the entertainment industry. Butler took acting classes and soon began landing minor roles on children’s TV shows. His mom homeschooled him to accommodate his burgeoning schedule.

Early TV Roles

In 2005, Butler appeared for the first time as Zippy Brewster, a minor character on the Nickelodeon comedy Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. The role was uncredited, and Butler often only appeared in the background of his scenes. However, he became a regular on the program, appearing in 41 episodes across the second and third seasons.

Next, Butler had a guest role as Derek Hanson in an episode of Hannah Montana, the Disney Channel comedy starring Miley Cyrus. He also appeared on singular episodes of iCarly, another Nickelodeon show, and Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place starring Selena Gomez.

austin butler smiles at the camera, he wears a black cardigan over a white graphic tshirt

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Austin Butler in December 2008

Zoey 101

Butler’s breakout part came on the fourth season of the Nickelodeon series Zoey 101. The actor played James Garrett, a love interest of main character Zoey Brooks (played by Britney Spears’ younger sister, Jamie Lynn Spears).

Butler considers the role from 2007 to 2008 a turning point for his career. “It was the first time I was ever a series regular on a show so I got to be part of an entire season. I remember getting my first line on a TV show and that was huge for me,” he told the Variety Awards Circuit podcast in February 2023.

Much of the show’s cast reunited for Zoey 102, a full-length sequel film that debuted on streaming service Paramount+ in July 2023. However, Butler said he wasn’t asked to participate in the project.

The Carrie Diaries and The Shannara Chronicles

After Zoey 101, Butler began earning minor roles in more mature TV series such as CSI: Miami and The Defenders, both in 2010, and CSI: NY In 2011. He also appeared in 14 episodes of the Freeform drama Switched at Birth, from 2011 to 2012.

Butler had yet to secure a leading role in a series, but that changed when he played Sebastian Kydd in The Carrie Diaries. The spinoff of Sex and the City started in 2013 and ran for two seasons. In 2016, he began portraying Wil Ohmsford in the fantasy series The Shannara Chronicles, appearing in all 20 episodes.

Around this time, Butler said he experienced severe depression following the death of his mother and took a months-long hiatus from acting. However, his agent convinced him to audition for and participate in a 2018 Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh starring Denzel Washington. Now clearly established as a TV and stage actor, Butler could set his sights on big-screen stardom.

Movie Breakout in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Butler’s first movies included the children’s comedy Aliens in the Attic (2009) as well as the made-for-tv movies Betwixt (2010) and The Bling Ring (2011). By the mid-2010s, he was recruited to star alongside former iCarly castmate Miranda Cosgrove in the horror-thriller The Intruders (2015). The horror-comedy Yoga Hosers (2016), featuring Lily-Rose Depp and her famous father, Johnny Depp, followed.

The year 2019 proved particularly crucial to Butler’s career. He had a small part in The Dead Don’t Die, an ensemble horror-comedy with Bill Murray, Adam Driver, and Selena Gomez. More importantly, he played Manson Family member Tex Watson in his breakout role for the Quentin Tarantino–directed comedy-drama Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.

Butler turned down a screen test for future blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick to participate in Tarantino’s film, saying he wanted to work with the director “for so long.” It worked out just fine; the movie was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and showed Butler fit right in alongside superstars like Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Lead Role in Elvis

austin butler wearing a silver suit and standing next to a film poster showing him in costume as elvis presley

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Austin Butler earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Elvis Presley in the 2022 biopic Elvis.

Continuing his successful 2019, Deadline reported in July that Butler had won the highly-coveted role of rock ’n’ roll legend Elvis Presley in the musical biopic Elvis, beating out Miles Teller and Harry Styles, among others. Tom Hanks was cast as Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

Director Baz Luhrmann chose Butler in large part because of his audition tape, in which he recorded himself in his bathrobe singing Presley’s “Unchained Melody.” The actor later revealed he was inspired to submit the video after having a nightmare about his mother’s death. A full year before production began, Butler hired a movement coach, dialect coach, and acting coach to help him prepare for the part, and he pored over video footage of the iconic singer.

Did Austin Butler Sing in Elvis?

Butler told Entertainment Weekly he “wanted to give everything I had” to the role. That included mastering Presley’s singing voice. Butler’s vocals are used for every song during the early portion of the film. When the movie transitions to Presley’s Las Vegas residency in the later stage of his career, Butler’s voice is blended with the rock ’n’ roll star’s actual performances.

Butler and the production team recruited singing coaches from New York, Los Angeles, and Australia to help him prepare, and the actor began every day with singing exercises before and during filming.

The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2022, receiving a 12-minute standing ovation, and released to theaters the following month. Although the movie received mixed reviews, Butler’s performance was universally praised. Los Angeles Times film critic Katie Walsh wrote that Butler “leaves it all on the screen, embodying the raw, unbridled sexual charisma of Elvis onstage. He is jaw-dropping, nearly feral in his portrayal.”

In the months following the film’s release, social media users were quick to point out the actor continued to speak like Presley—particularly during his Golden Globe acceptance speech in January 2023. During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show later in February, the actor said he began to feel self-conscious and questioned if he now had a “phony” voice. However, Butler ultimately concluded he speaks like he normally would and told Norton that with all the singing he did for the part, “I probably destroyed my voice a bit. You know, my vocal cords, it’s a lot raspier now.”

Did Austin Butler Win an Oscar for Elvis?

In 2023, Butler received a series of accolades for the performance, winning a BAFTA Award for Leading Actor and Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama Motion Picture. He was similarly nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards but ultimately lost to Brendan Fraser from The Whale.

Recent Roles: Dune: Part Two and The Bikeriders

After the two costarred in Elvis, Tom Hanks recruited Butler to star in the World War II drama Masters of the Air. Debuting on Apple TV+ in January 2024 with Hanks and Steven Spielberg serving as executive producers, the TV miniseries tells the story of the 100th Bomb Group of the U.S. Air Force and its perilous missions. Butler played real-life pilot Gale Cleven.

Meanwhile, his first major movie role following Elvis came in the 2024 science-fiction sequel Dune: Part Two, with Butler playing villain Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen. Butler told the Los Angeles Times he gained weight and learned knife-fighting to prepare for the film. His goal was to make the character as vicious as possible.

“Learning about cultures throughout time that have had this brutality brought it to a human place where I realized: I’m not just playing someone you can write off as psychotic and evil. I had to see through his eyes,” he said. The rest of the ensemble cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Florence Pugh, and Christopher Walken.

The actor also stars in the upcoming crime thriller The Bikeriders, about a fictional motorcycle gang. Slated for theatrical release on June 21, 2024, the movie also includes Tom Hardy, Jodie Comer, and Mike Faist.

Girlfriend Kaia Gerber

austin butler embracing girlfriend kaia gerber as the two smile for a photograph together

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Kaia Gerber and Austin Butler in March 2023

Since 2021, Butler has been dating model and actor Kaia Gerber, the daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford and businessman Rande Gerber. The couple were first spotted together that December in Los Angeles, sparking dating rumors. They made their debut as a couple at a W Magazine party in March 2022, before Gerber accompanied Butler to the Met Gala and premiere of Elvis later that May.

Although Butler and Gerber have appeared at various events, both say they prefer to keep details of their relationship out of the spotlight. “Honestly, I feel like so few things in my life are private, and that is one of the things I try to keep as sacred as possible,” Gerber told WSJ. Magazine in February 2024.

Prior to her relationship with Butler, Gerber dated actor Jacob Elordi—who, coincidentally, also played Elvis Presley in the 2023 biopic Priscilla—for more than a year.

Butler was previously in a long-term relationship with actor Vanessa Hudgens from 2011 through 2020. The pair seemingly split on good terms, with Butler crediting Hudgens for encouraging him to pursue the Elvis role. “I owe her a lot for believing in me,” he said.

He was also linked to his Yoga Hosers co-star Lily-Rose Depp in August 2021, though neither confirmed a relationship and the two were never spotted together after.

Net Worth

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Butler’s total value is estimated around $4 million. However, with multiple high-profile movie and TV roles now to his credit, that total is only likely to rise in the future.


  • I often liken it to when somebody lives in another country for a long time. I had three years where (“Elvis”) was my only focus in life, so I’m sure there’s just pieces of my DNA that will always be linked in that way.
  • The thing that I’m now having to come to terms with, and figure out how to process, is when you go out in the street and you are the one being observed. One of my favorite things used to be sitting at a coffee shop and just observing human nature. Now when I’m looking out, people are looking back.
  • I look back on the Nickelodeon and Disney shows that I did; even though my skill wasn’t there, I still wanted to give the energy (as if) I was going to make “Raging Bull.” I kept that fierce dedication toward trying to find more truth, even in things where it could be easier to just phone it in.
  • It takes a lot of time to prepare and shoot a film, and what I’m looking for is that to a certain extent the project frightens me. I like it when the challenge has something terrifying about it, because that’s what makes you concentrate and dig deep down inside and learn things about yourself.

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Headshot of Tyler Piccotti

Tyler Piccotti joined the staff in 2023, and before that had worked almost eight years as a newspaper reporter and copy editor. He is a graduate of Syracuse University, an avid sports fan, a frequent moviegoer, and trivia buff.

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