Vanessa Hudgens Says Her Past Relationship with Austin Butler Pushed Her Toward the 'Right Person'

The 'High School Musical' alum said her split from Butler "catapulted me to a very, very special place" to find husband Cole Tucker

getty (2) Austin Butler and Vanesa Hudgens
getty (2) Austin Butler and Vanesa Hudgens

Vanessa Hudgens is grateful for the journey to finding her husband Cole Tucker.

Three months after marrying the pro baseball player, the High School Musical alum, 35, opened up about how her past breakups made her “reassess everything” and that her character “was built from my breakups” on the latest episode of the She Pivots podcast.

She added that her most recent split from Austin Butler — who she dated for nine years from 2011 to 2020 — is what ultimately led her to find Tucker.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler

Related: Vanessa Hudgens' Dating History: From Zac Efron to Cole Tucker

She explained the pair’s breakup “catapulted me to a very, very special place, obviously, getting married," and added that the split is what pushed her towards “the right person, which I'm so grateful for. Because he's just the most supportive, real understanding human being that I've ever met.”

Butler, 32, and Hudgens were first linked in 2011. In January 2020, a source confirmed to PEOPLE that the two broke up, citing demanding work and travel schedules.

The following November, Hudgens sparked dating rumors with Tucker when they were seen holding hands in Los Angeles. The two eventually went public with their romance and shared the happy news of their engagement in February 2023. They tied the knot in December.

<p>Kevin Mazur/Getty Images</p> Cole Tucker and Vanessa Hudgens

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Cole Tucker and Vanessa Hudgens

Related: Vanessa Hudgens Responds to Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce's Romance Being Compared to High School Musical

Hudgens’ comments about Butler come after the Dune: Part Two actor clarified last month why he referred to Hudgens as a "friend" during a recent interview, which prompted fan outrage over the moment.

“Oh, yeah, I learned a lesson with that one. I felt that I was respecting her privacy in a way and not wanting to bring up a ton of things that would cause her to have to talk," Butler told Esquire.

"I have so much love and care for her. It was in no way trying to erase anything," he added.

Butler said because "I value my own privacy so much, I didn’t want to give up anybody else’s privacy."

Related: Inside Vanessa Hudgens' Wedding to Cole Tucker in Mexico: All the Details!

The actor —  who is now dating model Kaia Gerber — referred to his ex as a "friend" while discussing his Oscar-nominated Elvis role during a 2023 Hollywood Reporter Actors Roundtable conversation: "The month before I heard that Baz [Luhrmann] 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.' I said, 'Oh, that's such a long shot.' "

"A couple of weeks later, I was playing the piano," he continued at the time. "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.' "

Fans online connected the dots, though, finding that Hudgens shared a nearly identical story years ago when the two were still together.

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"Last December, we were driving along and we were listening to Christmas music, and then an Elvis Presley Christmas song came on," Hudgens said on a 2019 episode of Live with Kelly and Ryan. "He had just dyed his hair dark. He's a natural blond, and I was looking at him and he was singing along and I was like, 'Babe, you need to play Elvis.'"

"Then in January, he was sitting at the piano," she added. "And he's playing and he's singing and I'm like, 'I don't know how, but you need to figure out how you can play Elvis. Like, I don't know how we get rights or what we do, but you need to play him.' "

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