Austin Butler Revs Up In The Bikeriders: ‘He’s Got Serious Gears At Work,’ Says Jeff Nichols

The Bikeriders

by Ben Travis |
Published on

Even though it’s only the start of April, it’s already been one hell of a year for Austin Butler. The Elvis actor started 2024 by taking to the skies in Apple TV+’s wartime drama Masters Of The Air, before blowing everyone away in Dune: Part Two with his transformative take on the fearsome Feyd-Rautha. His stellar run is set to continue later in the year with The Bikeriders – the long-awaited motorcycle club drama from acclaimed filmmaker Jeff Nichols, based on photojournalist Danny Lyon’s 1968 tome documenting biker gang the Outlaws. It’s a film set to send Butler into Easy Rider mode.

As Nichols tells Empire, he was the perfect pick to portray the enigmatic Benny. “The minute I was shaking his hand, I just was like, ‘Wow, this is a good-looking guy,’” the director says of his first meeting with the star. “But he’s so disarming in how generous and nice and polite he is. It is a bit of a mask, I think. That guy’s got some serious gears at work under there.” There’s an unknowability, too, to his latest character. “In the book he seems a bit like a myth,” says Nichols of Benny. “And that was the line of thinking when I started to build that character. He’s a stand-in for this unattainable, probably unrealistic human being.”

In Benny’s orbit is Jodie Comer’s Kathy, a woman who finds herself drawn to him – despite the dangerous world he inhabits. “Kathy is the heart of the movie, and also the conscience,” explains Nichols. “She’s the lens through which this club is interpreted.” Who better to grab onto that part with both hands than the ever-excellent Comer? “She’s a woman in the 1960s that’s struggling to understand her place in this very specific world. And Jodie really embraced that,” Nichols says. “She really worked on it, to carry all of those complications.” Get ready to hit the gas.

Empire – The Acolyte – June 2024 issue newsstand cover

Read Empire’s full The Bikeriders interview with Jeff Nichols in The Acolyte issue – on sale Thursday 11 April. Order a copy online here. The Bikeriders comes to UK cinemas on 21 June.

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