In a video obtained by Us Weekly, Hudgens, 34, who hosted ABC’s pre-show coverage, brushed past Butler, 31, and Sharon Stone as fans screamed the actor’s name across the street from the Vanity Fair bash After Stone, 65, reacted to the loud cheers, Butler waved to the onlookers and Hudgens walked by without making eye contact.
The Chronicles of Shannara alum is nominated for Best Actor at this year’s ceremony, scoring a nod for his performance as Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann‘s Elvis. The category’s other nominees include Brendan Fraser for The Whale, Colin Farrell for The Banshees of Inisherin, Paul Mescal for Aftersun and Bill Nighy for Living, with Fraser, 54, taking home the statue during the ceremony.
The year before Butler and Hudgens called it quits, the High School Musical actress revealed that she’d encouraged her then-boyfriend to play the iconic “Jailhouse Rock” singer months before he landed the role in July 2019.
“Last December, we were driving along and we were listening to Christmas music, and then an Elvis Presley Christmas song came on,” the Spring Breakers star said during an August 2019 appearance on Live With Kelly and Ryan. “He had just dyed his hair dark — he’s a natural blond — and I was looking at him and he was singing along and I was like, ‘Babe, you need to play Elvis.’”
As the movie began production in January 2020, however, Us confirmed that Butler and Hudgens called it quits after nine years together. “Vanessa and Austin are officially broken up, and Vanessa has been telling those close to her about their breakup,” an insider said at the time.
When awards season began ramping up earlier this year, Butler told a similar story about someone telling him that he needed to play Presley, but he didn’t mention Hudgens by name.
“The month before I heard that Baz was making the movie, I was going to look at Christmas lights with a friend, 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,’” the Carrie Diaries alum recalled in January while participating in The Hollywood Reporter‘s Actors Roundtable. “I said, ‘Oh, that’s such a long shot.’”
The California native added: “A couple of weeks later, I was playing the piano. I never really sang for any of my friends or anything. That same friend was there and I was playing the piano. She said, ‘I’m serious. You gotta figure out how you can get the rights to a script.’ Then my agent called and said, ‘So, Baz Luhrmann is making an Elvis film.’”
Butler later confirmed to The Los Angeles Times that the “friend” was indeed Hudgens. “We’d been together for so long and she had this sort of clairvoyant moment and so I really, I owe her a lot for believing in me,” he explained in January.
After his split from the Second Act star, Butler moved on with Kaia Gerber, whom he’s been dating since late 2021. While the model wasn’t with him on the red carpet, Gerber joined Butler at the Vanity Fair party on Sunday.
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“Real magnetic love is out there,” Hudgens wrote via Instagram that same month while celebrating Valentine’s Day with her fiancé. “What a journey it was to get here but so worth it to get to my forever.”