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Austin Butler Explains Why Girlfriend Kaia Gerber Isn’t His Date at the 2023 Oscars

Bro-ing out! Austin Butler explained why he didn’t attend the 2023 Oscars with girlfriend Kaia Gerber — and why he brought his best friend as his date instead.

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Speaking with Ashley Graham on the champagne carpet at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 12, the 31-year-old Elvis star explained that he wanted his longtime pal James Farrell “by my side.”

“I’ve got my best friend here with me, who is also my agent,” he told the model, 35, who was cohosting the ABC pre-show with Butler’s ex, Vanessa Hudgens. “And I owe my career to him, so as a thank you, I wanted him to be by my side tonight.”

Austin Butler Explains Why Girlfriend Kaia Gerber Isn't His Date to the 2023 Oscars
Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock ; Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Butler — who is nominated for the best actor Oscar for his role in Baz Luhrmann’s titular biopic of the late Elvis Presley — elaborated on his friendship with Farrell in a red carpet interview with Entertainment Tonight.

“We met when I was 17. James was working at the agency as an assistant, I was just doing little TV shows and then we grew up together,” the Carrie Diaries alum shared. “He’s the guy that I go to for every career, question.”

Farrell, for his part, told the outlet that he’s going to be sobbing with pride throughout the show. “He’s my best friend that I get to work with,” he said of Butler.

Gerber, meanwhile, attended the premiere of her film Bottoms at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, March 11.

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The pair first sparked romance rumors in late 2021, with Us Weekly confirming their relationship that December after the two were spotted taking a yoga class together.

Though the couple have mostly remained tight-lipped about their romance, they packed on the PDA while at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival that May. Gerber, 21, was photographed smooching the Golden Globe winner on the red carpet premiere of Elvis.

In December 2021, the duo were spotted on a getaway to Cabo San Lucas with Kaia’s parents, Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber, and her brother, Presley Gerber. One month later, they were spotted getting cozy after the Sharpay’s Big Adventure actor took home the 2023 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama.

Prior to his romance with Gerber, Butler dated Hudgens, 34, from 2011 to 2020 — and credited her for inspiring him to play the role of Elvis.

Related: Austin Butler and Kaia Gerber’s Relationship Timeline

“The month before I heard that Baz was making the 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 got to play Elvis,’” he revealed at The Hollywood Reporter’s Actors Roundtable earlier this year, later clarifying to the Los Angeles Times that said friend was his “partner at the time.”

“I said, ‘Oh, that’s such a long shot,’” he recalled. “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.’ Then my agent called and said, ‘So, Baz Luhrmann is making an Elvis film.’”

Speaking with the L.A. Times, he revealed he and Hudgens had “been together for so long and she had this sort of clairvoyant moment and so I really — I owe her a lot for believing in me.”

Kaia, for her part, had also been in several high-profile relationships before dating Butler, including Jacob Elordi, Pete Davidson and more.

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