Who is the Indy 500 honorary starter? Actors Austin Butler, Jodie Comer to wave green flag at Brickyard

American racing’s most famous event — the Indianapolis 500 — returns to the fore this Memorial Day weekend.

It promises to be a spectacle teeming with intrigue. Josef Newgarden took home the gold last year, leaping his way to immortality after making a last-lap pass beyond 2022 winner Marcus Ericsson.

As far as drama is concerned, last year’s race was at good as it could get. And yet, this year’s iteration could be even more enthralling, especially with the addition of NASCAR Cup Series icon Kyle Larson into the starting grid.

Is it any surprise why Tinseltown wants a taste of the pie, too?

The Brickyard is going Hollywood for this year’s race. A pair of the film industry’s biggest stars will mark the occasion with a flourish, serving as the race’s honorary starters.

Here’s what you need to know about Austin Butler and Jodie Comer, the two actors tasked with leading off the proceedings at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Who is Austin Butler?

Butler is one of the most in-demand actors in the film industry as of late. The 32-year old started his career as a child actor on programs that littered Disney Channel and Nickelodeon’s catalogue. He’s since parlayed that early success into big-budget film roles, playing the titular role in “Elvis” — which earned him a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award. Butler has gone from strength-to-strength in the years since his breakthrough,  starring in “Masters of the Air”, “Dune: Part Two” and “The Bikeriders” alongside Comer. It is for “The Bikeriders”, a movie portraying the life and times of motorcyclists in the Midwest United States, that Butler and Comer were tapped up to participate in Sunday’s festivities.

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“Austin and Jodie star in a movie focused on two wheels, but they’re about to experience the exhilaration of 33 of the fastest cars on four wheels as they stand atop the flag stand and wave the green flag to officially start the world’s greatest race,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “This is one of the most powerful and exciting moments in all of sports.”

Who is Jodie Comer?

Much like Butler, Comer is a veteran in the industry despite being only 31 years old. The Liverpool native was a fixture in England’s biggest programs, namely BBC America’s “Killing Eve”, for which she garnered a British Academy Television Award and Primetime Emmy for her performance as sadistic assassin Villanelle.

Comer has since transitioned into both the silver screen and the stage, appearing in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”, “Free Guy”, “The Last Duel”, “The End We Start From” and “The Bikeriders.” For her showcase in the one-woman play “Prima Facie”, Comer nabbed both the Laurence Olivier Award and, in 2023, a Tony.

Comer and Butler join the list of movie stars who have waved the lime-green banner on race day. Last year, Adam Driver kicked off the proceedings. Other notable film icons to have taken on the role include Chris Hemsworth, Matt Damon, Christian Bale and Miles Teller.


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