Vanessa Hudgens kept quiet last week when her ex-boyfriend of nine years Austin Butler referred to her as a “friend” on social media. The two broke up in January 2020 while Butler was filming Elvis and are now dating other people (Butler with Kaia Gerber and Hudgens with Cole Tucker).
But today, Hudgens finally felt ready to publicly share her opinion on Butler’s much-discussed voice change—and yes, it was shady.
Butler is still speaking with his Elvis accent, something that has befuddled the public. Instagram user Ryan Scott suggested on the platform that Butler’s decision to talk that way is part of his awards season campaign to win over voters. “He went to the Lady Gaga school of campaign acting,” Scott wrote, sharing a tweet from Page Six quoting an interview his vocal coach gave about his accent.
“Crying,” Hudgens commented. She also liked the Instagram for good measure.
When the couple was dating, Hudgens was an enthusiastic supporter of Butler pursuing the Elvis role. During a 2019 Live with Kelly and Ryan interview, she said, “Last December, we were driving along and we were listening to Christmas music, and then an Elvis Presley Christmas song came on. He had just dyed his hair dark. He’s a natural blonde…and I was looking at him and he was singing along and I was like, ‘Babe, you need to play Elvis.’ Then in January, he was sitting at the piano. And he’s playing and he’s singing and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how, but you need to figure out how you can play Elvis. Like, I don’t know how we get rights or what we do, but you need to play him.”
The same month their breakup was reported, an interview Hudgens did with Cosmo UK came out where she spoke about their relationship pre-split. “It’s eight years this year—FaceTime, good communication, respect and trust [are what keep us going],” she said then. “The longest we’ve been apart was four months. It sucks! You start hating hearing yourself say ‘I miss you.’ But if it’s your person, you make it work.”
Butler spoke to GQ in May 2022 about his breakup with Hudgens, but he kept his comments very vague. “Life is full of changes, and you’ve got to find a way to constantly be evolving and growing,” he said.
They no longer follow each other on Instagram.
As for Butler’s voice change, he explained backstage at the Golden Globes, “I had three years where [the role] was my only focus in life, so I’m sure there will always be pieces of my DNA that will always be linked in that way.”
His vocal coach, Dr. Irene Bartlett, told ABC Gold Coast this week, via Entertainment Tonight, “I feel sorry people are saying that, you know, it’s still acting [but] he’s actually taken [the voice] on board. I don’t know how long that will last, or if it’s going to be there forever.”
Senior News and Strategy Editor
Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.