Writer / director Baz Luhrmann delivers one of the first big movies of the summer with his stylish biopic Elviswhich depicts Elvis Presley‘s (Austin Butlerrise in the entertainment industry and his complicated relationship with his longtime manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). The film has already received plenty of praise for Luhrmann’s flashy vision, its engaging and emotional storytelling, and an against-type performance from Hanks. However, Butler’s breakout performance as the titular King of Rock and Roll is garnering the most acclaim and while it’s certainly Butler’s biggest role to date, Elvis is not likely the first time audiences have seen him.
In his earlier years of acting, he was known for guest starring on some of the biggest shows on Nickelodeonuntil eventually finding bigger roles on YA tv shows. Also, some might remember seeing him in Quentin Tarantino‘s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood during the shockingly violent finale. Butler’s performance in Elviswill likely take him to new heights of recognition, but it’s always good to look back and see where viewers might recognize him from.
James Garrett: ‘Zoey 101‘
In the final season of the beloved Nickelodeon series Zoey 101Butler was introduced in a recurring role as James, a new love interesting for main character Zoey (Jamie Lynn Spears).
Although James was simply a replacement for the absent fan-favorite Chase (Sean Flynn), he quickly melded with the cast well and even gained a more prominent storyline with him developing a budding relationship with Zoey. Butler’s role as James was likely the first time many saw him on-screen, but it remains one of his most memorable roles.
Peyton Leverett: ‘Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure‘
Butler starred alongside Ashley Tisdale in the High School Musical spinoff film Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure as Sharpay’s friend and eventual love interest Peyton.
In the film, Peyton is a film student who helps Sharpay navigate the bustling NYC world and gives her constant support. Butler’s performance is a true highlight of the film with the charm he provides alongside Tisdale and the genuine sense of care he brings to inspiring Sharpay to follow her dreams.
Jack: ‘The Dead Don’t Die‘
Although it was one of his smaller film roles, some might remember seeing Butler as one of the young travelers in Jim Jarmusch‘s 2019 zombie horror / comedy The Dead Don’t Die.
Butler was a part of a trio of young travelers, which also included Selena Gomez and Luka Sabbat, that headed into the film’s central town of Centerville as it unfortunately becomes infested with zombies overnight. Butler’s character Jack unfortunately does not survive the night but does make a solid impression with some solid jokes.
Hunter Calloway: ‘Yoga Hosers‘
Another horror-comedy that Butler had a small but memorable role in was Kevin Smith‘s Yoga Hosers where he played a love interest with a satanic twist.
As “pretty boy” Hunter Calloway, Butler gives off the right kind of vibes of being a simple love interest to partial protagonist Colleen M. (Harley Quinn Smith), but then brings a delightfully weird turn in him actually wanting to place Colleen in a sacrificial ceremony. Yoga Hosers isn’t exactly a beloved work of Smith’s, but it was a great steppingstone for Butler’s career, and he had one wildly strange death.
Jordan Gallagher: ‘Ruby & the Rockits‘
ABC Family‘s 2009 family sitcom Ruby & the Rockits did not take off like expected, but it did provide Butler with one of his bigger tv roles as Jordan Gallagher.
In the series, Butler’s character Jordan was the cousin to main protagonist Ruby (Alexa Vega) and constantly butt heads with her. Even among some strong talent like Vega and David CassidyButler stood out through the comedic charm he brought to every episode and spat between him and Ruby.
Jake Crandall: ‘iCarly‘
Another memorable role Butler had on Nickelodeon was playing the character Jake on an episode of iCarly where he had the looks to end up on the fictional web show, but not the voice.
In the episode “iLike Jake,” both Carly (Miranda Cosgrove) and Sam (Jennette McCurdy) have a crush on school hottie Jake and invite him to be on their show to sing, but soon realize that he can not sing. Obviously, based on his performance in ElvisButler can clearly sing, but he pretending to be terrible made for a very funny episode in the early days of iCarly.
Jake Pearson: ‘Aliens in the Attic‘
Butler’s first feature film role came when he co-starred in the 2009 family comedy Aliens in the Attic as a member of a family fending off some small, but fearsome aliens.
Sure, Aliens in the Attic is a pretty standard family comedy full of goofy laughs, but Butler and the rest of the cast commit to its wild antics well and make it a more enjoyable watch.
Sebastian Kydd: ‘The Carrie Diaries‘
The CW prequel to HBO‘s Sex and the City, The Carrie Diariessaw Butler play teenage Carry Bradshaw’s (AnnaSophia Robb) on and off love interest Sebastian.
Sebastian and Carrie’s relationship saw a lot of ups and downs throughout its two-season run and Butler was able to show a bit of an edgier side to himself through Sebastian’s troublemaking behavior causing him and Carrie to have a rollercoaster relationship.
Wil Ohmsford: ‘The Shannara Chronicles‘
Arguably Butler’s most notable breakout role came when he starred in the short-lived MTV fantasy drama series The Shannara Chronicles as lead character Wil Ohmsford.
As Wil, a half-human / half-elf destined to save the world from emerging dark forces, Butler established himself as a worthy lead bringing a likeable charm and strong dramatic chops to his performance. Butler’s role as Wil is likely what’s made him a more recognized name and garnered him a sizeable fanbase.
Tex Watson – ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood‘
The most recent notable role that Butler had before Elvis was as Tex Watson, one of the lead Manson followers, in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Most audiences likely remember his finale bout with a drugged-up Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) where Cliff struggled to get his name right. Tex ultimately met a gruesome end after Cliff sends his dog to bite the hell out of him, including a place where no man wants to get bit.
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