Angela Bassett ‘understood’ Austin Butler’s Oscars moment. So she held his hand

Angela Bassett opened up about her friendship with Austin Butler for Time Magazine.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Angela Bassett left a lasting impression on fans when she held hands with Austin Butler at the 2023 Oscars. A month later, it seems that moment has stayed with her too.

On Thursday, Time Magazine announced its 2023 class of the 100 most influential people, including Bassett and “Elvis” star Butler. To celebrate his honor, Bassett wrote about her friendship with her fellow Oscar-nominated actor.

“We connected in a fleeting moment, one of many when we would share a hug and warm words,” she said of their awards season run-ins. “Despite all that swirled around him, Austin opened his heart to new friends. I was fortunate to be one of them.”


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The “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” star said she met Butler on the campaign trail. In February, both Bassett and Butler received Oscar nominations for their respective acting categories.

Upon watching Baz Luhrmann‘s “Elvis,” Bassett said she gained a “deep appreciation for all the work I knew Austin put into his performance.” Bassett herself is no stranger to portraying a music legend — in 1994, she earned her first Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

“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,” she wrote. “Austin accomplished this with a brilliantly nuanced performance.”

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Heading into the March Oscars ceremony, Bassett and Butler won their categories at various shows in the awards circuit — including the Golden Globes, where they both walked away with prizes.

“On the evening of the Oscars, with Austin seated next to me, I understood intimately what he felt when it was time to learn if he would climb those stairs to the stage,” Bassett continued. “So, I took his hand and held it softly as the winner was announced.”

The actor in a leading role Oscar was announced after Bassett didn’t win supporting actress, which went to to Jamie Lee Curtis (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”). Eagle-eyed fans were quick to notice Bassett comforting Butler when his name wasn’t called.


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“Angela Bassett holding Austin Butler’s hand while he’s nervous…is exactly the kind of woman I imagined she was,” tweeted social media strategist Nadine Babu.

Instead, “The Whale” star Brendan Fraser ascended the stairs to collect his first Oscar from presenters Halle Berry and Jessica Chastain.

“Austin is no less a winner,” Bassett wrote.

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Bassett concluded her tribute looking ahead to the “infinite universe of possibilities” that Butler will encounter as an actor. After his turn as the King of Rock and Roll, Butler will go on to star in “Dune: Part Two” and the Apple TV+ series “Masters of the Air.”

“I can’t wait to see what he brings us next,” Bassett said.

Giving love to Bassett, who was honored in Time’s Titan category, was Turner, who praised the actor for her talents. She recalled meeting the “9-1-1” star for the 1993 biopic directed by Brian Gibson.

“‘She’s perfect,’ I said, and I was right. You never mimicked me. Instead, you reached deep into your soul, found your inner Tina, and showed her to the world,” Turner wrote.

She continued: “That’s your gift, becoming your character with conviction, truth, dignity, and grace, even when it’s painful, and takes everything you have and more. It’s not just acting, it’s being.”