Angela Bassett on why she held Austin Butler’s hand at the Oscars

Angela Bassett has opened up about her connection with Austin Butler’s awards season experience.

Bassett, in an essay for TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2023 series, published Thursday about her friendship with the Elvis star, recalled the moment she held hands with Butler at this year’s Academy Awards just before the presentation for Best Actor. 

According to an ET report, Bassett pointed out that she “understood intimately what he felt” in the moments just before Oscars announcers revealed the Best Actor winner.  

“I understood intimately what he felt when it was time to learn if he would climb those stairs to the stage,” Bassett wrote. “So, I took his hand and held it softly as the winner was announced.”

Butler lost the Best Actor race, and Brendan Fraser ultimately took home the trophy, for his performance in The Whale. Bassett, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, also lost. Her category went to Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All At Once

“The first time I met Austin Butler, we were both starting to find our grooves in what promised to be a busy awards season,” Bassett wrote of her friendship with Butler. “We connected in a fleeting moment, one of many when we would share a hug and warm words. Despite all that swirled around him, Austin opened his heart to new friends. I was fortunate to be one of them.” 

“A lot goes into an actor’s finding their way into an icon, not pretending to be them but offering a perspective on the artist as we perform slices of their story,” she added of his performance as Elvis Presley. “You walk away from that set forever changed. Your hope is that when people see the film, they don’t see you—they see an artist’s journey through a different lens. Austin accomplished this with a brilliantly nuanced performance.

“Although his name wasn’t called, Austin is no less a winner,” Bassett concluded. “The time had come for Austin to say goodbye to Elvis as he began to embrace an infinite universe of possibilities as an actor. I can’t wait to see what he brings us next.” 


Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date