Austin Butler is clearing the air.
Over a year after facing backlash for not crediting ex-girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens‘ role in his drive to play Elvis—instead referring to her as a “friend”—the 32-year-old set the record straight.
“Oh, yeah, I learned a lesson with that one—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,” Austin told Esquire in an article published on Feb. 6. “I have so much love and care for her. It was in no way trying to erase anything.”
While the Dune: Part 2 star later made clear that Vanessa—whom he dated from 2011 to 2020—inspired him to pursue the role of Elvis Presley in the Baz Luhrmann-directed movie, he initially told an abridged version of the story.
“I was going to look at Christmas lights with a friend,” Austin—who has been dating Kaia Gerber since 2022— said during the Hollywood Reporter‘s Actors Roundtable last January. “And there was an Elvis Christmas song on the radio and I was singing along and my friend looked over at me and goes, ‘You’ve got to play Elvis.'”