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Austin Butler reveals he chose Quentin Tarantino movie over screen test for Top Gun: Maverick

Austin Butler has revealed that he turned down a screen test for Top Gun: Maverick to join Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 film, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood.

The 32-year-old actor – who played Manson Family cult member Charles Watson in Tarantino’s critically acclaimed movie – explained the decision during a New York screening of his new Apple TV+ series, Masters of the Air.

“I ended up having to choose between going to the screen test for Top Gun: Maverick or saying yes to Quentin Tarantino,” Butler told Happy Sad Confused podcast host Josh Horowitz at the event.

The Elvis star said that “for so long” he had wanted to work with the Kill Bill director and had “already met with [Tarantino], so I did that”.

Butler was originally in the running for the role of Rooster, played by Miles Teller in Tom Cruise’s 2022 action movie.

“I felt so passionate about Austin,” Top Gun: Maverick casting director Denise Chamain previously told Variety.

“Ultimately, his audition was shown to Tom and all the filmmakers,” she added. “They agreed he had something and they were happy to know him, but they thought he was too young.”

Austin Butler (Getty Images)
Austin Butler (Getty Images)

On a recent appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Butler admitted that he needed a dialect coach to help him shake the voice he’d developed for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis for Masters of the Air.

“All I thought about was Elvis for three years. And then I had that week off and then I flew to London and at that time it was Covid so I’m quarantined for 10 days, so I thought alright just pour all this energy into learning about World War II now,” he said.

“I had a dialect coach just to help me not sound like Elvis in that film, that was the whole thing.”

Butler leads the minidrama about a group of airmen who risk their lives during World War II.

“It’s hard to resist the pulse-quickening action of this epic Second World War story,” Nick Hilton wrote in his four-star review of the show for The Independent.

“The Bloody Hundredth, staffed by men scarcely into adulthood, might be a glamorous bunch, but they are also losing their innocence. Playing out on a canvas in the skies, this is daring, big-budget filmmaking that just about sticks the landing.”

Masters of the Air is out on Apple TV+ now.