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Austin Butler Explains Why He Referred To His Ex-Girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens As “Just A Friend”

Last year, Austin Butler was slammed by haters online after he referred to his ex-girlfriend, Vanessa Hudgens, as just a friend in a Hollywood Round Table interview.

During the interview, he was asked if he had always dreamed of playing Elvis, and that’s when he talked about how it was actually his “friend” who had encouraged him.

The month before I heard that [director] Baz [Luhrmann] was making the [‘Elvis’] 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 gotta play Elvis!’ 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.’

Just a couple days later, his agent called him to tell him that Baz was planning on making a movie about Elvis, and well, the rest is history.

But people were quick to note that this “friend” he was referring to was indeed his ex-girlfriend, Hudgens. They had dated for nearly 10 years and just split before he went off to Australia to shoot the movie.

People found it disrespectful that he simply referred to Hudgens as a friend, but during a recent interview with Esquire, the 32-year-old actor explained why he did it…

Oh, yeah, I learned a lesson with that one. 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. I have so much love and care for her. It was in no way trying to erase anything. I didn’t want to give up anybody else’s privacy because I value mine so much.

Seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. The internet needs to chill. Hudgens was starting a new relationship at the time, so he probably didn’t want to impact that at all.