LOS ANGELES | When Austin Butler was cast as the love interest in "The Carrie Diaries," he took a crash course in everything "Sex and the City."
"I haven't gotten to Charlotte's second wedding," he admits now, months after starting the job. "But it's fun to see where this all turns out."
In the new CW series, Carrie Bradshaw is still dealing with first loves, hasn't landed a full-time job and isn't strutting the streets in Jimmy Choos.
But she she still has a sense of style (circa 1984) and a necklace that hints at the sign yet to come (it's just a "C").
Butler's Sebastian Kydd, meanwhile, is the dreamboat she longs to woo.
"He's the precursor to Big," Butler says of her one true love. "He's put up a wall, then go away and then they'd have an amazing relationship. It's the same with us."
Kydd, however, doesn't have to wear those funky '80s clothes, thanks to a little reserach by the actor. "I read the book (by Candace Bushnell) and it said he always wears the same leather jacket that he got in Rome. I started watch a lot of James Dean and Marlon Brando. So, I emailed the costume designer and said, 'I feel like he would look up to guys like that more than guys in the '80s.' He agreed with that...and I lucked out." Butler smiles.
In truth, the 21-year-old with model-like looks could wear '70s polyester and still make it work. A ringer for "Glee's" Chord Overstreet, Butler has often been mistaken for him at parties. "A girl had a whole conversation with me at a party, thinking I was Chord. When I told her I wasn't she thought I was joking." Even Butler's grandmother has made the same mistake. Butler, however, says, "I don't see that much of a resemblance."
Sure, the two have taken acting classes together and been up for the same roles, but Butler is more interested in the kind of career Leonardo DiCaprio enjoys. "He's a character actor in a leading man's body. My goal is to try and figure out how I can do that, too. You can build so many bad habits that don't challenge you that much."
Butler's career? Most of it has been spent on teen shows -- many of them on various Disney channels.
He started working at 11 as an extra. "I was making $100 a day and I thought it was amazing."
Acting classes followed; a sense of purpose set in. "The idea of shedding light on the human condition was such a cool idea for me." Homeschooled, he decided to pursue the career full time, landing in a series of shows before booking "The Carrie Diaries."
"Looks come into play a lot, especially on a network like The CW," Butler says. "I've talked to older actors who I really look up to and they say being an attractive guy in Hollywood is a hard thing. They won't take you seriously effort."
Thus, the quest to become a character actor. While Sebastian Kydd is hardly "The Carrie Diaries'" kooky guy next door, he does have enough angst to give Butler something to play. "I don't know if he's the ideal boyfriend because he has so many issues."
AnnaSophia Robb (who plays the younger Carrie) joins him in "acting like a goofball" on the set and sharing "Sex and the City" insight.
Girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens has helped him with research, too. The two have watched the HBO series -- "and loved it" -- and shared their own moments at various sites in Europe.
Because "High School Musical" gave Hudgens a high profile, Butler knows paparazzi can be an occupational hazard. "You have to et used to weird men standing in bushes and jumping out at you," he says. "I'm not mean to them...I just ignore them completely. But I've realized if you do anything hostile toward them they can get very mean, very fast. Every time they come up to me with a microphone, I just don't say anything."
Tabloid writers like to say they can "make or break your career," but Butler says he prefers not to play that game. "All I want to do is act. I figure it's best to focus on the work I'm doing, not everything else."
And Sebastian Kydd's future? Don't worry if you've read the book and realized a Mr. Big comes along eventually. "The storylines aren't going to be the same as the ones in the book," Butler says. "The book is just the starting point."