Get to Know 'Elvis' Star Austin Butler

Before he played America's heartthrob, he took on that role in many teen dramas. Get to know the star of 'Elvis' through his earlier work.
by Hedy Phillips — 

Austin Butler

Lia Toby / Getty Images

Long before Austin Butler put on Elvis Presley's iconic blue suede shoes, he was starring in plenty of angsty teen dramas and Nickelodeon and Disney Channel shows. As a young actor, Butler found himself playing roles opposite Miley Cyrus in Hannah Montana, Miranda Cosgrove in iCarly, and Jamie Lynn Spears in Zoey 101. He cut his teeth on popular shows for teens and tweens while eventually working his way into bigger, better roles. 

Building his Hollywood résumé eventually landed him the role of Elvis himself in this summer's Elvis. He settled comfortably into the role, earning the highest praise from Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie Presley. She tweeted in May, "Austin Butler channeled and embodied my father's heart & soul beautifully," adding that she thought the movie was spectacular. 

Butler may have had his fair share of heartthrob roles over the years — and the role of Elvis certainly fits this bill as well — but each of his roles gave him a new layer to his skillset. He's played roles in comedies, horrors, fantasy, and everything in between. Elvis may firmly usher him into a more musical drama category, but considering everything he's already done so far, it's not terribly surprising that it's been received so well by audiences already.

If you're not already familiar with Butler's past work, we've put together a curated list of some of his past projects. These truly demonstrate his acting range and show you exactly why he landed the highly coveted role of Elvis in the first place. 

Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood

Metascore: 83
Best for: Quentin Tarantino fans
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 161 minutes

Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) was once at the top of his game in Hollywood, but as times change, so does his work. His best friend, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), is his closest confidant and the one who knows Rick's struggles, so he's there for him to lean on. That is, until there's a bit of a distraction next door to Rick's home — Roman Polanski (Rafał Zawierucha) and Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) live there, and all their lives are really, really about to change. Butler plays Tex, and to put it mildly, he's not a good guy.

"Wistful, funny and complicated in interesting ways, Quentin Tarantino's new movie, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, may be his warmest film since Jackie Brown." — Liam Lacey, Original Cin

Switched at Birth

Metascore: 75
Best for: Fans of teen dramas
Where to watch: 

, , Google Play, , iTunes
Seasons: 5

Bay (Vanessa Marano) and Daphne (Katie Leclerc) are two teens who lead very different lives. It's not until a random blood test Bay does in her high school chemistry class reveals that she's not who she thought she was: Her DNA doesn't match her parents. It turns out, she and Daphne were switched at birth, and now that both families know, they decide to figure out a way to blend their families. Butler appears in several episodes in Season 1 as Wilke, a fellow teen who dates Daphne for a bit.

"High concept, and yet it works, thanks to solid acting." — Jennifer Armstrong, Entertainment Weekly


Metascore: 73
Best for: Fans of superhero shows
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix,
Seasons: 8

Based on the DC Comics' Green Arrow, Arrow is the story of Oliver Queen, a former playboy by day who is a vigilante by night (who is played here by Stephen Amell). After spending years on a mysterious island, he comes home to clean up his city, first starting by going after people on a list left by his father and later expanding into trying to take down all kinds of crime and corruption. Butler appears in three episodes in Season 3 as Chase, a young man who seems like a harmless DJ at first but is revealed to be a member of the League of Assassins, and he has a mission to take out someone very close and important to Oliver.

"Arrow proves to be both on-brand and entertaining — if you turn off the snark detector and downplay the need for plausibility or logic." — Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter

Life Unexpected

Metascore: 69
Best for: Fans of angsty teen soap operas
Where to watch:

Seasons: 2

In this short-lived series, teenager Lux (Britt Robertson) has had a rough life. She's been in and out of foster homes, never finding her forever home. When she turns 16, she decides to just emancipate herself, but she doesn't anticipate needing her birth parents' consent. When she ends up meeting them, the three form a bond that's far from easy and far from perfect, but they start to understand that maybe they can all be in each others' lives. Butler plays Jones, one of the teens Lux befriends and eventually dates. 

"The lead characters in Life Unexpected are so likable, and the interactions between them feel so natural, that you find yourself willing to give the show lots of slack." — Chuck Barney, San Jose Mercury News

Ruby and the Rockits

Metascore: 59
Best for: Fans of family drama
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes
Seasons: 1

Brothers Patrick Gallagher (Patrick Cassidy) and David Gallager (David Cassidy) once lived in their glory days as rock stars, but now, Patrick has moved on to family life, while David is still stepping on stages. The only thing standing in his way of continuing his lifestyle is his daughter Ruby (Alexa PenaVega). David is hoping his brother is willing to take in his daughter and absorb her into his family, which includes son Jordan (Butler).

"It mixes the standard elements into a breezy good time, and ends with a number that'll stick in your head all day." — Jennifer Armstrong, Entertainment Weekly

The Carrie Diaries

Metascore: 58
Best for: Fans of teen dramas, origin stories, and Sex and the City
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes,
Seasons: 2

Butler flexes his heartthrob status as Sebastian in this precursor to Sex and the City. In Carrie's (AnnaSophia Robb) origin story, she's just a teenager trying to figure out her place in the world. She does just that by dipping a toe into New York life, testing out being a journalist, and dating the ultra hot (and sometimes problematic) Sebastian.

"The CW's attempt to capture the magic of Sex and the City in a prequel, set in 1984, could have gone very wrong. But The Carrie Diaries is surprisingly right." — Gail Pennington, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Dead Don't Die

Metascore: 53
Best for: Zombie lovers
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunesVudu
Runtime: 104 minutes

In this 2019 comedy-horror film from director Jim Jarmusch, zombies take over a sleepy town, wreaking havoc on everyone around. Each night, more zombies show up, bringing about a wild and desperate need to figure out a way to put a stop to what's happening in town. The ensemble cast is packed with familiar faces including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, and Tilda Swinton. Butler plays a supporting role of Jack, a passerby who is friends with Zoe (Selena Gomez) and Zack (Luka Sabbat); the three are travelers who stumble upon this apocalyptic event.

"The Dead Don't Die is far from Jarmusch's best, but there's something to be said for its zonked-out acceptance of extinction." — Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com

The Shannara Chronicles

Metascore: 52
Best for: Fantasy fans
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunesTubi, Vudu
Seasons: 2

Butler leads The Shannara Chronicles as Wil Ohmsford, a hybrid human/elf who, along with Amberle (Poppy Drayton) and Eretria (Ivana Baquero), is protecting their home from demons, all while falling in and out of romantic entanglements and learning about each other and the history of the fallen humankind.

"First rate production value, interesting characters and an intriguing story make for a world well worth escaping to." — Terry Terrones, The Gazette

Aliens in the Attic

Metascore: 42
Best for: Fans of quirky sci-fi
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunesVudu
Runtime: 86 minutes

In Butler's first feature film, which was released in 2009, he plays a teenager named Jake, who finds himself with his family at their vacation home intending to get away for a bit. What actually happens is a spaceship with aliens known as Zirkonians lands on the roof of their home and threatens to take over everything using mind control. Jake and his siblings and cousins have to defeat these aliens using any manner of force and smarts they can.

"The movie is awfully close to a video game with its own specific rules, but its characters are appealing and funny." — Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter

Yoga Hosers

Metascore: 23
Best for: Fans of horror comedy
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunesPluto TV, Tubi, Vudu
Runtime: 88 minutes

Colleen Collette (Lily-Rose Depp) and Colleen McKenzie (Harley Quinn Smith) are just two teens who love doing yoga and having fun. When they get invited to popular senior Hunter's (Butler) party, they are understandably thrilled. Colleen C. sees an opportunity, though, when her father leaves town for the weekend, and invites Hunter to host his party at her dad's store. All hell breaks loose, though, when the Colleens discover Hunter isn't who he says he is — and then winds up dead.

"While Yoga Hosers continues Smith's quest to push himself into increasingly strange and uncomfortable directions as a filmmaker, it's either too derivative or too malformed to work the vast majority of the time." — Dominick Suzanne-Mayer, Consequence