As Austin Butler put the finishing touches on his eventual Oscar-nominated performance as Elvis Presley, his Elvis co-star Tom Hanks was already considering the budding superstar’s next move. Early 2021, just a few weeks before Elvis was to end, Hanks took Butler to dinner and proposed to him Airbendersthe spiritual sequel to the Emmy Award-winning miniseries Band of brothers And The pacific. Based on the book of the same name by Donald L. Miller, Band of brothers writer John Orloff developed the World War II drama for Apple TV+, alongside the Brothers And Peaceful production team consisting of Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman.
Looking back, Butler is relieved that his first engagement after wrapping up the career-changing role of Elvis didn’t require him to overanalyze such a big next step.
“It was one of those obvious decisions. You have Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman, and I’m such a fan of Band of brothers, The pacific And Saving Private Ryan“, says Butler The Hollywood Reporter. “I knew this opportunity didn’t come every day, so I took the plunge with everything I could.”
Beginning in 1943, the story chronicles the real-life friendship between B-17 fighter pilots Gale “Buck” Cleven (Butler) and John “Bucky” Egan (Callum Turner), during the United States’ war against Nazi Germany tests them individually. and collectively. Bucky is more cavalier and competitive about his experience in the Eighth Air Force’s 100th Bombardment Group, while Butler’s Buck is more measured and realistic about what lies ahead. And knowing that the friendship of their characters was at the heart of the series, the two actors made it their duty to find common ground as quickly as possible.
“From the first night we hung out, we hit it off quickly,” Butler says. “We got past all the superficial questions and immediately moved on to talking about life and love, our fears, our dreams and so on, so we got to know each other very well. He was the best training partner I could have hoped for on this one.»
This is an exciting time for Butler, as he also Dune: part two will be released on March 1st. He plays the villainous Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, and when asked about his reaction to seeing the film, Butler used the endearing words of its director Denis Villeneuve. “I deeply love [Dune: Part Two]”, said Butler in his best Villeneuve imitation. The French-Canadian filmmaker’s slogan, “I love him deeply,” is so appreciated by his actors that they make an effort to hear him say it after a take.
Below, in a recent conversation with THRButler also explains why he had little time to prepare Airbendersbefore explaining how he juggled Dune: part two‘s production schedule with its busy awards season for Elvis.
So how soon Elvis did Tom Hanks introduce you Airbenders?
(Laughs.) It was right towards the end, actually. We had a month left, even if [Masters EP] Gary Goetzman told me earlier that there were elements of the story that I didn’t know. I guess Gary asked Tom about me at first [of Elvis] or something like that. But I didn’t hear about it until the end. Tom and I were having dinner and we talked about it a little.
Your first job after packaging Elvis would normally be a pretty big decision to make. But given the who’s who of names involved and being tied to the legacy of Band of brothers And The pacificAre you glad you don’t have to think too much about this decision?
Yeah, it was one of those obvious decisions. You have Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman, and I’m such a fan of Band of brothers, The pacific And Saving Private Ryan. So it was obvious. At the time, I really wanted to take a little rest. But I knew this opportunity didn’t come every day, so I took the plunge with everything I could.
Now you got sick right after wrapping Elvisso did you have to catch up?
Well, I wrapped, then I had a week where I was sick. I was bedridden for that week, then I got on a plane and flew straight to England. So I didn’t really have time to prepare in advance because I was so focused on finishing. Elvis. But once in England, I was quarantined for 10 days. It was at that time when you still had to quarantine when you flew to London. And so I spent 10 days being cooped up in a hotel room, and that’s when I read [Donald L. Miller’s] Airbenders book. I also reviewed Band of brothers And THE Peaceful. So it was just a complete immersion into that time period and that history, and then I went straight from there to training camp. That’s how I made the transition.
I immediately contacted Buck (Butler) and Bucky (Callum Turner), because, like Bucky, I too gave my best friend a nickname he didn’t particularly want.
What nickname did you give him?
First day of high school, this guy insisted on being called Martin, not Marty. Four years later, we’re college roommates and I randomly called him Marty, which spread like wildfire. His wife only knows him that way.
(Laughs.) Certainly not! Marty…
He still hasn’t forgiven me.
Thus, Bucky, coining Gale’s nickname Buck, launched their close friendship during basic training. On a related note, when did you and Callum first bond as actors?
It was very, very fast. For these two characters, we knew that their friendship was really going to be a pivotal part, and so, from the beginning, we said, “Let’s get together and talk.” » And from that first evening when we spent time together, we quickly got along. We got past all the superficial questions and immediately moved on to talking about life, love, our fears, our dreams and so on, so we got to know each other very well. He was the best training partner I could have hoped for on this one.
I guess you first bonded during her singing scene. Considering the role you just played, Callum singing to you makes the scene even funnier.
(Laughs.) Yeah, I loved that. It was fun to be able to sit back and be fooled by him.
What’s so distressing about the flight sequences is that so many things can go wrong before you even reach the enemy’s airborne minefield.. Did you have anything to watch that day, or did you have someone in your ear to tell you what was going to happen?
We were very lucky because we had a technology called volume screens. So that meant there was high definition footage and we could see flak on the horizon. We could see fighter jets flying next to us, so that was such a gift as an actor. You simply react to what you see. We were on a gimbal, so the whole plane was moving, and you could suspend your disbelief very quickly and feel like you were flying the plane.
There’s a reason for not telling new pilots what to expect in the air, and Buck takes issue with not being told. Would you like these expectations set for you?
Personally, I would like to know. I would like to know what I’m getting into because that would also help me plan ahead and figure out how I could keep everyone safe.
All pilots wear masks most of the time, so would you do group ADR sessions during production?
That’s a good question, but no, we actually did ADR after the fact. It was solo. I have never participated in a group ADR session. We tried to record as much audio [as we could] that day, but as you can imagine, with the mask, the wind blowing, and the explosions, a lot of that audio wasn’t very usable.
Buck and the other pilots have checklists before they fly. Do you have some sort of checklist before a day of action?
It always changes. It depends on the role you play, but I [do]. I think back to moments in my life before doing a play. Before going on stage, I felt like I was going through memories and making sure everything was still warm. It’s a bit like having a bunch of spinning plates in the air and making sure everything is always spinning. So I definitely have that kind of checklist from time to time, but it depends on the role and the scene. Everything depends.
Buck doesn’t buy into superstition and faith before he flies, and I found this thread quite interesting as things unfold. Are you superstitious?
I definitely have some in me. Ever since I was a child, I had little things that I felt I had to do. I’m sort of obsessive in some ways. Yes of course. Are you?
Not really. I don’t knock three times every time I knock on someone’s door, but I guess that’s more OCD than superstition.
Yeah, for me sometimes they feel like they go hand in hand.
It’s true. So have you seen the new Denis Villeneuve another film?
Did you “deeply love” him?
(Butler, recognizing that of Villeneuve vscatchphrase, begins an admirable impression.) I deeply I loved it, yeah.
Between filming Dune: part two and campaign for Elvis at the same time, how did you stay on track during this crazy time?
Man, just take it one moment at a time and focus on how lucky you are. I feel so, so grateful, and it fills me with so much energy and a sense of humility about it all. So you just take one interaction at a time, and yeah, that’s how I was able to get through it.
Airbenders began streaming Friday on Apple TV+.