EXCLUSIVE: In his first star role set since his Oscar-nominated turn as Elvis Presley, Austin Butler will star in City on Fire, an adaptation of Don Winslow’s novel from Sony 3000 Pictures. This will be Butler’s first film as producer, alongside David Heyman and Shane Salerno. The studio has made this a high priority and will be meeting with writers and filmmakers immediately.
The deal brings Butler back with Sony Pictures, where he had his first breakout turn as Tex in the Quentin Tarantino-directed Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. City on Fire is the first title in a novel trilogy, so the hope is for Butler to have his first turn on the ground floor of a film franchise, after starring in the Baz Luhrmann-directed Elvis.
The HarperCollins/Morrow novel takes elements of The Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid and Greek tragic dramas and places them in a world of contemporary crime. The first installment was published in April 2022, and the second book in the trilogy, City of Dreams, will be published April 18.
The trilogy focuses on two criminal empires — one Irish, the other Italian — that control all of New England. A modern-day Helen of Troy event tears them apart and starts a brutal war. Butler will play the main character, Danny Ryan, forced to grow from a street soldier into a ruthless leader to protect his friends, his family and the home he loves. Fighting the Mafia, the local cops and the feds, Danny intends to build a dynasty or die trying. 3000 Pictures exec Drew Reed was instrumental in tracking the series, and Elizabeth Gabler and Marisa Paiva are overseeing for the studio.
Said 3000 head Gabler: “We are elated that venerable producer David Heyman, alongside Austin Butler, will join forces with Shane Salerno to make Don Winslow’s spectacular trilogy, starting with City on Fire. Don is an iconic novelist and a true master of the genre of suspenseful crime fiction and has created one of the most memorable modern-day heroes in Danny Ryan, the complex and compelling protagonist of this trilogy. It is a dream come true to envision Austin, with his uniquely brilliant and charismatic talent, bringing this character and story to cinematic life.”
Winslow particularly sparked to the prospect of Butler taking his next leading-man step through his novel. Butler has been very active in helping shape this into a potential Michael Corleone-like vehicle in that it spans decades.
“Like so many people around the world, I was amazed by Austin Butler’s Oscar-nominated performance in Elvis,” Winslow said. “I’ve had a number of conversations with Austin about this trilogy that I’ve been working on for almost 30 years of my life, and I have been deeply impressed by his commitment to playing Danny Ryan as well as his passion to also produce the three films with David and Shane and Elizabeth and Marisa.”
Butler next co-stars in Dune: Part Two, the Jeff Nichol-directed The Bikeriders and Apple TV’s miniseries Masters of Air. The latter continues the tapestry of WWII soldier tales that started with Band of Brothers and The Pacific. The limited series is exec produced by Steven Spielberg and Playtone’s Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman.
Heyman produced Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as well as Marriage Story, Gravity and the Harry Potter films. Upcoming he has the Greta Gerwig-directed Barbie with Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling and the Paul King-directed Wonka with Timothée Chalamet, both releasing later this year by Warner Bros. Salerno most recently co-wrote with James Cameron, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver and Josh Friedman Avatar: The Way of Water.
Through his The Story Factory banner, Salerno is enmeshed in several small- and big-screen adaptations of Winslow bestsellers. Perhaps his best is the Border Trilogy, a 50-year battle between the DEA and Mexican cartels. The trilogy has been adapted for FX to air later this year, with Winslow producing and Daniel Zelman and Salerno the EPs. Winslow has other books in development to be adapted into film and TV series with Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, James Mangold, Rian Johnson, Scott Frank and Ridley Scott.
Butler is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and Sloane Offer; Winslow is repped by The Story Factory and CAA, and Heyman by Goodman Genow Schenkman.
After the Oscars, Austin attended the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party with Kaia Gerber. I do wish he took some solo photos! He also took a portrait! Check out all the photos in the gallery! Since the awards season is now over, I’ll be taking the time to get the gallery complete with all of Austin’s past projects!
Yesterday (March 12) was the 95th Annual Academy Awards, the day we were all waiting for! Austin looked great in a Saint Laurent tux! Unfortunately, Austin did not win Best Actor and Elvis didn’t win in any other categories. It was sad to see! All of the cast and crew worked so hard for this movie. I’m still so proud of Austin and I’m sure his day will come!
You can find photos of Austin arriving on the champagne carpet and inside the show in the gallery!
Austin has a new interview with TheWrap! You can read it below! I have added scans from the magazine to the gallery and you can also see a few portraits taken during the Palm Springs International Film Festival!
Photoshoots > 2023 > Session 20 | Palm Springs International Film Festival – TheWrap
In many ways, the central song in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” is “Suspicious Minds,” the thrilling 1969 single that was Elvis Presley’s first No. 1 record in seven years. The key lines of that song, which Luhrmann uses as something of a leitmotif in the final stretches of the film, are “We’re caught in a trap, we can’t get out,” which are partly a declaration of the singer’s love but also a cry of despair from a man whose fame has put him on a pathway to excess and premature death.
And nine months after the film premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival and three weeks after it received eight Oscar nominations including Best Picture, “Elvis” star and Best Actor nominee Austin Butler walked into a restaurant at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and immediately found himself in a trap of his (and Luhrmann’s) making. First, he was stopped by a father asking for a photo of Butler with his young son — who is, dad said, a huge fan of the movie. Butler grinned, bent down to greet the kid and posed for a couple of shots. As soon as that was done, he was approached by fans from Ireland, then a couple from London, then some from closer to home. He only needed to traverse about 20 feet to get to the table where we were supposed to be talking, but by the time he got there he’d probably posed for a photo for every one of those 20 feet.
But when the 31-year-old former child actor from Orange County, California slid into the booth, he was sporting a big grin. “I’m feeling very, very good,” Butler said at the end of a long day at the Oscar Nominees Luncheon. He nodded toward the selfie gauntlet he’d just run. “That’s something I’ve been getting in certain places, and I’m trying to get more used to it.”
He shrugged. “These are surreal days.”
THINGS HAVE BEEN HEADING TOWARD SURREAL for Butler since Cannes, when “Elvis” drew largely positive reviews that focused on how a nearly unknown former teen actor nailed the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s moves and even did a creditable job singing his early classics. Suddenly, the guy who’d beaten out a quartet of bigger stars for the role — Ansel Elgort, Harry Styles, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Miles Teller were reportedly the other names on the shortlist — had become a star of his own, a sex symbol and a sure-fire Oscar nominee.
“It’s really been a whirlwind,” Butler said softly. “A rollercoaster. I mean, really high highs…” He trailed off. “And then lows.”
The biggest low does not come as a surprise. “For me, it was losing Lisa Marie,” he said, referring to the death of Elvis’ only child at the age of 54, only three days after she attended the Golden Globes to support the film. “That was unimaginable, so shocking that I didn’t really believe it was true. And it just sort of shifted my perspective about things, you know?
“But also, I look at this film as a way of sort of carrying her legacy and her father’s legacy in a way that she was proud of. And so I feel honored to be a part of her life and for all the moments that I was lucky enough to spend with her.”
Those moments began after a screening of “Elvis” at the singer’s longtime Memphis home, Graceland. “I was walking down this hallway outside the screening room, and she turned around at the end of the hallway and we made eye contact,” he said. “We both teared up just seeing each other, and then she embraced me and said, ‘I want to talk to you privately.’ She took me into another room and we just sat there and talked and talked and talked, and then later that night she took me up to Elvis’ bedroom and we spent more hours together talking.
Yesterday, Austin attended the 25th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards! He presented the category of Excellence in Contemporary Film to Jenny Eagan. The amazing Catherine Martin won for Excellence in Period Film for Elvis. Congratulations Catherine! Visit the gallery for all the new photos of Austin at the awards!
Appearances > 2023 > Feb 27 | 25th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards (Cocktails)
Appearances > 2023 > Feb 27 | 25th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards (Green Room)
Appearances > 2023 > Feb 27 | 25th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards (Show)
Austin has a new interview and photoshoot for Variety. You can read his interview below and check out the new photos in the photo gallery.
In November, Austin Butler was in Cincinnati on the set of Jeff Nichols’ film, “The Bikeriders.” He was shooting a scene with co-stars Tom Hardy and Michael Shannon that involved Shannon delivering a two-page monologue. Butler found himself lost in the moment, watching his fellow actor. “Jeff called cut and Mike walks away,” Butler recalls. “And Tom turns to me goes, ‘It doesn’t get any better than that.’”
Butler says Hardy was referencing Shannon’s performance, which he says, “wasn’t even watching an actor, it was watching a human being living in front of you.”
The 31-year-old actor could also be referring to the past year of his life, which found his career launched from roles in shows including “Zoey 101” and “The Carrie Diaries” into a bona-fide, world-famous movie star thanks to his turn in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis.” And not just any movie star, but the kind of old-school throwback to a Golden Age that is becoming rarer and rarer in Hollywood where his talent is as recognized as his star quality.
“I got to be honest, I just feel so fortunate,” Butler says of the whirlwind months since “Elvis” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to a rapturous response in May before hitting theaters in June when it took in close to $300 million at the box office.
If there was any doubt of the love for the film and his performance, industry screenings and events are still packed full despite the film being available on HBO Max and other platforms.
Since then, Butler has won a BAFTA and a Golden Globe Award, been nominated for both a SAG Award and an Oscar, hosted the Christmas episode of “Saturday Night Live” and filmed a role in the hotly anticipated “Dune: Part Two.”
By now, Butler’s story of landing the life-changing role of Elvis Presley is fairly established. How he pursued the part, working with movement, dialect and singing coaches just for the audition. How a major turning point occurred one late night when he was thinking about his mother, who, like Presley’s, died when he was in his 20s. In a bathrobe, Butler sat down at a piano and recorded himself singing “Unchained Melody” in honor of her. He had already sent one audition to Luhrmann but his agent urged him to send this one as well, and it was that video that caught the director’s eye. How a five-month process took place before he landed the role. And then how production was shut down right before filming due to the COVID pandemic, but Butler stayed in Australia to work on the role.
Also discussed at length have been his meticulous preparation for the part, as has his deep affection for Presley’s ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, and daughter, Lisa Marie, who passed away just hours after Butler won the Golden Globe. Even today, weeks later, Butler still seems to be struggling to comprehend it.
“She had the greatest laugh,” Butler says. “The greatest, warmest and most honest laugh — she wasn’t putting it on. You felt terrific when you made her laugh.”
So Variety wanted to talk to Butler about some other topics — about how he’s handled rejection on the long road to “Elvis,” some of his favorite moments of the past year and one adorable canine co-star.
The audition process for “Elvis” lasted five months. Were there periods of time when you assumed it wasn’t happening, that they had gone with someone else?
From the start I knew Baz doesn’t just do auditions, he does workshops. So I knew it would be a process. I was able to keep my head down and concentrate on the work and try not to get too invested in thinking of it as my part.
Yesterday, the 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards were held at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles, California. Austin looked amazing in custom Gucci and Cartier. Austin was nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, unfortunately he lost to Brendan Fraser. Congrats Brendan. It looks like Austin still had a great time! Check out all the amazing photos from the red carpet and inside the show in our gallery! The Academy Awards takes place on March 12th, we are rooting for you Austin!
Appearances > 2023 > Feb 26 | 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (Show)
Hi Austin fans! Yesterday, Austin attended the 2023 Producers Guild Awards with Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin. You can find photos of Austin at the event in the gallery!
In this week’s Sunday Sitdown, Austin Butler joins Willie Geist to talk about how he found his way into acting and transformed into Elvis Presley for his Oscar-nominated performance.