Austin Butler is clearing the air about calling his ex-girlfriend, Vanessa Hudgens, a “friend” in a past interview.

During an interview with Esquire, the Elvis actor cleared up rumors that there was bad blood between the former flames, one year after facing backlash for calling his ex-girlfriend of nine years a “friend” in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.

“Oh, yeah, I learned a lesson with that one,” he told the outlet in February 2024.  “I have so much love and care for her. It was in no way trying to erase anything.”

He also noted that the two were together for a “long time” and told the outlet that he “didn’t want to give up anybody else’s privacy” because he values his own “so much.”

“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,” he added.

ICYMI, the Dune 2 star came under fire for seemingly dissing his past relationship with the Princess Switch actress during the Hollywood Reporter’s 2023 Actor Roundtable.

After being asked if he had always dreamed of playing Elvis Presley, the actor revealed that an unnamed “friend” convinced him to pursue the role.

“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,” Austin revealed. “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!’”

Fans immediately took to social media to point out that that “friend” was actually Vanessa, as she publicly shared that same story while appearing on Live with Kelly and Ryan in 2019.

“Last December, we were driving along and we were listening to Christmas music, and then an Elvis Presley Christmas song came on. He had just dyed his hair dark. He’s a natural blond, and I was looking at him and he was singing along and I was like, ‘Babe, you need to play Elvis,’” said Vanessa. “Then in January, he was sitting at the piano. And he’s playing and he’s singing and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how, but you need to figure out how you can play Elvis. Like, I don’t know how we get rights or what we do, but you need to play him.’”

After nearly nine years together, Us Weekly confirmed that the duo had officially gone their separate ways. “Vanessa and Austin are officially broken up,” an insider told the publication at the time. “Vanessa has been telling those close to her about their breakup.”

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