Ever since he landed his role on Baz Luhrman's Elvis – and more so now since a Golden Globe win and Oscar nod – Austin Butler has received more attention than ever.
While his performance, and his newfound voice, have been the center of fans' attention, his past relationship with Vanessa Hudgens has also been the talk of the town.
The longtime couple broke hearts when they announced they were breaking up in 2020, after having dated for nine years. They met through their mutual best friend, Ashley Tisdale, Vanessa's co-star in the High School Musical trilogy, and Austin's in its spin-off, Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure.
WATCH: Austin Butler thanks Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley at the Golden Globes
Many blame the distance and grueling filming process as the reason behind their split. Austin spent nearly three years stuck in Australia, and fully immersed himself in Elvis' world, distancing himself from many of his friends and family during his method acting journey.
Still, fans didn't let him forget that it was his ex-girlfriend who encouraged him to seek out an Elvis role, though when telling the same story she previously had back in 2019 on Live! With Kelly and Ryan, he went viral for calling her a friend.
In a resurfaced clip from the morning show, Vanessa said: "I'm so, so proud. He has always been so inspiring to me… 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. He had just dyed his hair dark and I was looking at him and he was singing along and I was like, 'Babe, you need to play Elvis.'"
The pair were 21 and 23 when they started dating
It's the same story he has told in several interviews, though referring to Vanessa as an unnamed friend.
Fans immediately urged him to give his former girlfriend proper credit – previous interviews reveal she urged him to find a way to play Elvis multiple times – and he just gave them what everyone was waiting for.
Austin won the Golden Globe for best actor for Elvis
Speaking with The Los Angeles Times of being cast in the role, he said: "I was with my partner at the time," subsequently confirming he was referring to Vanessa.
He added: "We'd been together for so long and she had this sort of clairvoyant moment and so I really, I owe her a lot for believing in me."
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