As Elvis star Austin Butler celebrates his first-ever Oscar nomination, he's honoring one of the women who made the film possible: Lisa Marie Presley. The 31-year-old actor, who was nominated on Tuesday for best actor for his portrayal of Elvis Presley, said "it's sort of a bittersweet moment right now." Elvis was also one of the 10 films nominated for best picture.
"I think of how much I wish she was here right now to get to celebrate with me. It's the same thing I feel with Elvis; I wish that they could see these moments, you know? It's just sort of strange to celebrate at a time of such deep grief," Butler shared when he called in to Today With Hoda and Jenna after learning of his nomination. "But I sort of think of it as a way to honor her. This is for her."
Lisa Marie died on Jan. 12 after going into cardiac arrest, but an official cause of death has yet to be determined. The singer's sudden passing came just two days after she attended the Golden Globe Awards where Butler took home one of the night's top awards.
"It was such a daunting undertaking, making this movie, and it was also a very long process. I just remember those sleepless nights and all the fear and all the possibilities for how it could have gone wrong," Butler added on Today. "Being recognized just feels very surreal and amazing."
Elvis director Baz Luhrmann spoke to Deadline from Paris after nominations were announced. He's nominated as one of the producers of the biopic.
"We've had some really difficult days," Luhrmann said, "and it was good to just get away and be here for this."
Luhrmann and Butler were among the stars who attended Lisa Marie's memorial service at Graceland on Sunday alongside matriarch Priscilla Presley. In her first message since confirming her daughter's death, Priscilla thanked supporters.
"It has been a very difficult time but just knowing your love is out there makes a difference," she tweeted on Monday night.
Both Priscilla and Lisa Marie were critical in making the film. Butler spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about their impact and said no Oscar nomination tops when they "got to see the film and then I first saw them after."
"It really puts things in perspective to where ultimately, the thing I'm most grateful for is that I was able to spend the time that I had with Lisa Marie, and also the time that I had in getting to live for three years exploring the life of her father," Butler said. "When I see moments like today or when I feel moments like today, I have to really take a second to go, 'OK, this is this is something to be really grateful for.' But nothing compares to that moment I looked in her eyes after she first saw the film, where she told me how much it meant to her. I’ll really cherish that for the rest of my life."
MORE: Austin Butler reacts to Elvis nomination