Austin Butler explains why he called Vanessa Hudgens only a "friend" following viral backlash

7 February 2024, 14:13

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By Sam Prance

Austin Butler was criticised for calling Vanessa Hudgens, his ex girlfriend of 10 years, a "friend" in an interview in 2023.

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Austin Butler has seen people criticising him for calling Vanessa Hudgens his "friend" and he has something to say about it.

Fans of Austin Butler and Vanessa Hudgens will already know that the two Disney stars have a long history together. Back in 2011, they started dating and they stayed together for 10 years before calling it quits in 2020. Vanessa was even the person who suggested that Austin should play Elvis and encouraged him to pursue the role when Baz Luhrmann casted for it.

Austin actually referred to this during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2023. However, he didn't call Vanessa by her name. He said: "I was singing along and my friend looked over at me and said 'You gotta play Elvis'". Fans then began accusing Austin of being "disrespectful" given that he and Vanessa were far more than just friends to each other.

Now, Austin has addressed the backlash and explained why he only referred to Vanessa as his friend in the viral interview.

READ MORE: Vanessa Hudgens appears to respond after "awkward" Austin Butler Oscars encounter goes viral

Austin Butler explains why he called Vanessa Hudgens a "friend" following viral backlash
Austin Butler explains why he called Vanessa Hudgens a "friend" following viral backlash. Picture: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic, George Pimentel/Getty Images

Discussing the incident with Esquire, Austin laughed and said: "Oh, yeah, I learned a lesson with that one." He then revealed why he did what he did. He continued: "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."

As for how he feels about Vanessa, he said: "I have so much love and care for her. It was in no way trying to erase anything."

Austin then explained that they were a couple for a "long time". Vanessa' father and Austin's mother actually passed away while the stars were dating. Explaining his wording further, Austin said: "I value my own privacy so much. I didn’t want to give up anybody else’s privacy."

Shortly after Austin called Vanessa his friend in 2023, Vanessa left a comment on a post about how Austin still sounded like Elvis in his interviews. Ryan Skott shared a screenshot of a news article about Austin's voice with the caption: "He went to the Lady Gaga school of Oscar campaign acting". Vanessa reacted by writing "Crying" in the comments.

Then in March that year, a video of Vanessa and Austin seemingly having an awkward interaction at the Oscars' Vanity Fair after party went viral. Alluding to the incident on Instagram stories, Vanessa wrote: "Let’s all be on the ‘I only talk about peace’ train. Ok?"

Austin is now in a longterm relationship with model and actress Kaia Gerber and Vanessa recently married baseball player Cole Tucker.

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