After many years as a child actor and taking on supporting roles, Austin Butler has found his way into becoming a household name. The actor’s role as Elvis was a star making performance, and he is now once of our most in-demand young stars. But a different movie was almost Butler’s breakout role, as he had the opportunity to audition for Top Gun: Maverick. Ultimately, he decided to step away from the possibility in order to join the cast of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood…, and now is explaining why he made that decision.
Butler is currently in the process of promoting his new miniseries, Masters of the Air, and in doing so, sat down at The 92nd Street Y with Josh Horowitz for his Happy Sad Confused podcast. While he talked about the WWII drama, he also discussed some of his most career defining moments, including passing up on a screen-test for Top Gun: Maverick. He said (via People):
I ended up having to choose between going to the screen test for Top Gun: Maverick or saying yes to Quentin Tarantino.
He ended up saying yes to the legendary director and had a small part in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood… as Tex. While the character is small, it is pivotal to the film. His character lives on the Mason Ranch and meets Brad Pitt when the character is being introduced to the community. There is something off about Tex and the way he behaves. Later, he tries to break into his home, during a murderous rampage with other members of the Manson family. Butler is perfectly creepy in the role, and fits right in with the rest of the strange Manson family members.
The role Butler was up for was Rooster, which ended up being played by Miles Teller in Top Gun: Maverick. While the part is admittedly much larger than Butler’s role in Tarantino’s film, the decision to accept the role ended up having to do with an intense desire to work with the famed director, no matter how small the role was. He had also already met with Tarentino, which was a big influence on his decision, saying:
I’d already met with him, so I did that.
For many actors, working with Quentin Tarantino is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so passing up on the opportunity would’ve been almost impossible. There was no guarantee Butler would’ve landed a role in Top Gun: Maverick, as he was just in the screen test phase of the auditioning process. So for the actor, the decision was a no brainer. Miles Teller ended up being great in the high flying action film, and Butler was suited well for both Elvis and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood… it seems like both actors ended up making the best decision for them. When it comes to Hollywood, it’s hard to know when you are making the right career move, but looks like like the more personal decision for Butler was ultimately the right one.
You can revisit Austin Butler’s performance in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.., which is streaming now with a Hulu subscription. Fans can also see the actor in his latest project, Masters of the Air, which is available to stream for AppleTV+ subscribers. In addition, you can expect to see the Elvis actor in Dune Part 2 and The Bikeriders in cinemas soon, as both films are highly anticipated titles on the 2024 movie release schedule.