More Than Friends
Austin Bulter revealed why he called his ex Vanessa Hudgens a friend in an 'Elvis' interview.

Austin Butler Had A Reason For Calling Vanessa Hudgens "A Friend"

"Oh, yeah, I learned a lesson with that one."

There was a lot going on during Austin Butler’s Elvis era. While he was promoting the star-studded 2022 biopic, Butler’s notable voice change became an online fascination, as did the looming comparisons to Jacob Elordi taking on the same role right after him. Oh, and there was also “friend”-gate. When Butler told the story about how someone close to him pushed him to play Elvis Presley, he noticeably downplayed the relationship. He said it was just “a friend” who manifested the role for him, when it was actually his ex-girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens. Now, Butler’s finally explaining why he worded his story that way.

“Oh, yeah, I learned a lesson with that one,” Butler said in his Feb. 6 Esquire profile, when he was asked about the backlash over his “friend” comment. Back at the beginning of 2023, Butler recounted how a friend of his encouraged him to play Presley in a biopic after hearing him sing. It didn’t take long for fans to realize Hudgens had told the same story, leaving everyone to question why Butler would refer to her as just “a friend” when he and Hudgens had been dating for many years at that time.

“I felt that I was respecting her privacy in a way and not wanting to bring up a ton of things that would cause her to have to talk,” Butler explained in the recent profile. “I have so much love and care for her. It was in no way trying to erase anything.”

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Butler went on to emphasize how long and serious his relationship with Hudgens was, and said his choice to leave her out of the Elvis story was meant only as a sign of respect. “I value my own privacy so much,” he said. “I didn’t want to give up anybody else’s privacy.”

Butler and Hugdens dated for nearly a decade before breaking up in 2020, about a year after Butler was cast in Elvis. Both have since happily moved on — Butler with his girlfriend Kaia Gerber and Hudgens with her husband Cole Tucker.