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"I Have So Much Love And Care For Her": Austin Butler Broke His Silence On The Vanessa Hudgens "Friend" Backlash

"I Have So Much Love And Care For Her": Austin Butler Broke His Silence On The Vanessa Hudgens "Friend" Backlash

You probably already know that Austin Butler has been dating Kaia Gerber since the end of 2021.

  Taylor Hill / FilmMagic
Taylor Hill / FilmMagic

And if you're celeb-brained enough to know that, then you probably also know that Austin was in a relationship with Vanessa Hudgens from 2011 to 2018.

The former couple on the red carpet
Jacopo M. Raule / Getty Images for Luisaviaroma

So, let's take a trip back to Oscars season 2023, when Austin was doing a Hollywood Reporter roundtable interview after his ballyhooed performance in Elvis.

  Future Publishing / Future Publishing via Getty Images
Future Publishing / Future Publishing via Getty Images

During the interview, Austin talked about a moment that suggested his taking the role of Elvis Presley was a thing of destiny. "I was going to look at Christmas lights with a friend," he said, "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.’ I said, ‘Oh, that’s such a long shot.’"

Austin as Elvis
/ ©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

People online noticed that Vanessa told a similar story on Live with Kelly and Ryan back in 2019 — meaning that, when Austin recounted the story, he was referring to Vanessa as a "friend."

So, in a new interview with Esquire, Austin was asked about how his referring to Vanessa as a "friend" raised some eyebrows online — and he explained why he did it. And it makes a lot of sense, tbh.

  Rb / GC Images
Rb / GC Images

“Oh, yeah, I learned a lesson with that one," he said. "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."

Vanessa and Austin on the red carpet
David Crotty / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

"I have so much love and care for her. It was in no way trying to erase anything.”

  Toni Anne Barson / FilmMagic
Toni Anne Barson / FilmMagic

Elsewhere in the interview, Austin refused to talk much about his relationship with Kaia for the sake of their privacy — and he also said that was part of why he didn't mention Vanessa specifically in the interview last year.

  Michael Tran / AFP via Getty Images
Michael Tran / AFP via Getty Images

“I value my own privacy so much. I didn’t want to give up anybody else’s privacy.”

  Daniel Zuchnik / FilmMagic
Daniel Zuchnik / FilmMagic

There you have it! Read the entire interview here.