Garrett Hedlund’s Trip



It’s easy to see why Garrett Hedlund was cast in the coveted role of Dean Moriarty, the slightly fictitious alter ego of legendary Beat icon Neal Cassady in director Walter Salles’s highly anticipated film version of Jack Kerouac’s classic novel On the Road — they’re both magnetic blond bundles of energy. The photogenic 26-year-old actor just completed filming Road the afternoon before our interview and immediately caught a flight to Los Angeles to attend the premiere of Tron: Legacy, yet is surprisingly effusive after waking up early the next morning to begin publicity duties for Country Strong (now in theaters nationwide).

It’s been a quick rise to fame for Hedlund, who first made waves crossing swords with Brad Pitt in the 2004 epic Troy, a job he landed just weeks after graduating from high school and moving to Los Angeles. Following his attention-grabbing turns in the football drama Friday Night Lights and the Lindsay Lohan comedy Georgia Rule, Hedlund now reveals solid musical chops in Strong. He stars as Beau, a rising Nashville performer torn between Gwyneth Paltrow's alcoholic, down-on-her-luck singer, and Leighton Meester's winsome newcomer. Hedlund speaks with The Advocate about honing his musical skills for Country Strong, the downward spiral of former costar Lohan, and bringing the homoerotic Kerouac classic to the screen.

The Advocate: Your performance in Country Strong is so accomplished that it’s surprising to learn you had no experience as a musician before making the film. Was it this challenge that attracted you to the project?
Garrett Hedlund: Well, Shana [Feste, the film’s writer-director] had written this wonderful script, and when I finished reading it I had tears in my eyes. I thought that a script that moving had potential to be even more so on screen. Shana and I met and she asked if I was willing to put the necessary work into doing the part, and I told her 100% completely and undeniably yes. It required six months of guitar training four days a week, plus just living and breathing country music. There was a lot of hard work put into it, and I’m really proud of the film.

The hard work certainly paid off, as your musical performances in the film have authenticity. Do you think you might pursue a musical career in addition to acting?
No, not as a career, but of course just getting the taste of being in Nashville and getting up and doing it was so much fun. What I’d pursue is playing guitar in my spare time and writing. Maybe if one of my pals performs onstage somewhere, I’d get up and play with him, but it would be very casual.

Tags: film