Angela Bassett looks back at a supportive moment between her and Austin Butler at the 2023 Oscars.
When the Best Actor category was presented at the ceremony, Butler could be seen holding hands with fellow nominee Bassett, who sat next to him. It was a moment when, says Bassett, she “understood intimately what he was feeling.”
In a tribute to Butler, she wrote as part of TIME‘s 100 Most Influential People of 2023 series, the Oscar nominee reflected on the touching moment, as well as when they learned Butler didn’t win (Brendan Fraser ended up winning the Best Actor Oscar for The whale).
“On the night of the Oscars, with Austin next to me, I totally understood how he felt when it came time to learn if he was going to climb those stairs to the podium,” Bassett writes. “So I took his hand and held it gently when the winner was announced. Although his name was not mentioned, Austin is no less a winner.”
Reflecting further on his name not being mentioned for the Oscar win, Bassett writes, “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.”
Earlier in her tribute, Bassett writes that she was “lucky” to become the actor’s friend during busy awards season and at a time when they were “both starting to find our grooves”.
“We connected in a fleeting moment, one of many times when we shared a hug and warm words. Despite everything swirling around him, Austin opened his heart to new friends. I was lucky enough to be one of them,” Bassett writes.
Bassett earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Tina Turner in 1993 What Does Love Have To Do With It. After seeing Butler’s portrayal of Elvis Presley in Elviswrites Bassett that she viewed the film “with a deep appreciation for all the work” he put into his performance.
“There’s a lot that goes into finding an icon of an actor, not pretending to be him, but providing a perspective on the artist as we play parts of their story,” she continued. “You walk away from that set forever changed. You hope that when people see the movie, they don’t see you – they see an artist’s journey through a different lens. Austin achieved this with a brilliantly nuanced execution.
Prior to the ceremony, Bassett received her second career Oscar nomination for her performance in Black Panther: Wakanda ForeveR; However, Jamie Lee Curtis won the Best Supporting Actress award Everything Everywhere Everything at once.