Garrett Hedlund Says ‘Country Strong’ Role Reminds Him of a Young Kris Kristofferson
Garrett Hedlund's character Beau Hutton in 'Country Strong,' an up-and-coming singer-songwriter with onscreen romances with Gwyneth Paltrow and Leighton Meester's characters, struggles to find his place in the Nashville world, something Hedlund sees in another rambunctious songwriter who moved to Music City in 1965.
"[Hutton] reminded me of a young Kris Kristofferson," Hedlund tells The Boot, "when he just moved out here with all of the stories you hear of Kris mowing lawns down on [Music Row] and all the ladies in the studios just googling at him out there without his shirt. You see little things like this that add to the soul, but also to the charm of someone."
And like Kristofferson's work, Hedlund acknowledges the poetic nature behind his character's songs, such as 'Chances Are,' penned by Lori McKenna and Nathan Chapman.
"All these songs came into play to add to the poetic side of Beau [Hutton]," Hedlund adds. "Everybody saw his potential. I saw him as the heart of the film in that, because he's constantly dealing with the joys and vicissitudes of this new life. He's found himself in the middle of a lot of chaos, unknowingly, and having to deal with that."
Aside from channeling Kristofferson, Hedlund also got his chance at performing live in some of Nashville's hot spots. "I got up at the Station Inn with Jim Lauderdale and sang 'Chances Are' there," he confides. "So that was one of the greatest nights of my life, because sitting at the table in front of me was Gywneth and Chris Martin, Caleb [Followill] from Kings of Leon and Faith Hill, and Dierks Bentley was standing up behind them. I got home, and I had to work at five in the morning the next day, and I woke my mom up, and I said, 'Guess what just happened?'"
Hedlund shares the screen with Paltrow, Meester and Tim McGraw -- the latter someone he acknowledges as extremely supportive and helpful. "If that character [James Canter] wasn't played by Tim, I don't think I would've been able to do what I did in the film," Hedlund admits, who previously collaborated with McGraw in the 2004 film 'Friday Night Lights.' "I owe a lot to him. I guess there's some expectations when you're playing for Tim that make you work a little bit harder."
'Country Strong' premieres in theaters nationwide today, Jan. 7.