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Garrett Hedlund has been scarcely seen onscreen the past few years, but the 26-year-old Minnesota-born actor will be impossible to miss as the star of Disney’s holiday tentpole release “Tron: Legacy.”
Hedlund, whose credits include “Troy,” the feature film version of “Friday Night Lights,” John Singleton’s “Four Brothers” and the fantasy film “Eragon,” signed on to “Tron” after seeing test footage put together by director Joseph Kosinski to convince Disney an update to the 1982 original could be done well.
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“It was something that I thought was going to be incredibly new and revolutionary, especially working with 3D cameras,” Hedlund says. “It was a whole new step, a world of unknown, and I wanted to go down that road.”
Hedlund plays Sam Flynn (the son of Jeff Bridges’ character from the first film), whose search for his missing father leads him to a virtual computer gaming world. Acting in the film required a balance of injecting energy and fun into the action sequences while injecting humanity and emotion into the story’s more serious themes.
Hedlund jumped immediately from the sleek, neon look of “Tron” into Shana Feste’s “Country Strong,” playing an up-and-coming country singer who helps revive the career of a fallen star, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. Hedlund put in months of preparation, immersing himself in country music, moving to Nashville and learning to play guitar and sing.
“There’s 100% focus on the work and the practice and trying to get there. No way do I want to fake it,” he explains.
He similarly threw himself into researching the role of Dean Moriarty in Walter Salles’ adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s classic “On the Road.” Currently shooting, Hedlund was cast in 2007 and started reading and traveling while Salles assembled a cast that includes Sam Riley, Kirsten Dunst, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen.
“Walter really felt strongly about only making the film that he wanted to make,” Hedlund says. “It’s such a small group, and it’s the closest thing to a guerrilla shoot that you’ll ever see.”
LUCKY BREAK: Landing a role in “Troy” right out of high school. “Once I had known I had gotten it, I never had such a combusting emotion of disbelief.”
FAVORITE FILM: “‘Being There,’ with Peter Sellers. Good ol’ Chauncey Gardner. You gotta love him.”
THE CAREER I’D LIKE TO EMULATE: “It’s not a career I want to emulate but a work ethic. … There’s a lot of actors who inspire the hell out of me. It’s the unpredictables, the guys who are sort of continuously pushing the boundaries and working their asses off and striving to give the greatest performances they can on each particular project.”