Garrett Hedlund and I bonded over his rural northwest Minnesota roots. I used to live on the border, there, and got lost driving a friend to where he grew up (Roseau and Strandquist) the first winter I lived in North Dakota. No road signs, dark, snowing, and finger drifts crossing the road in front of my tiny, Southern-born Chevy.
“You need to look for Cattle Crossing signs,” he says. “Only thing that shows you where the road is.”
The last time Hedlund was up there, “It was 40 below,” he says. Same here, I say. And you remember what they used to say about OUR kind (people who have moved away)? “Forty below keeps the riff-raff out.”
Got a laugh out of him on that one.
Here’s my piece on GH, which I wrote initially to coincide with the “TRON” release, but which I may re-jigger (lots more notes of him talking about ‘Country Strong’) when it hits print and the wires.
In the annals of moviedom, December 2010 could go down as the month that Garrett Hedlund became a movie star.
This weekend, he’s front and center in Disney’s big budget (as much as $200 million) 3D blockbuster, “TRON: Legacy.” Then there’s the awards season country music romance “Country Strong,” starring Gwyneth Paltrow as a fading singer, Tim McGraw as her manager husband and Hedlund as the struggling young singer-songwriter who might be just what she needs. That opens in some cities in December, in the rest of the country in January.
And he just finished shooting a film based on Jack Kerouac’s Beat novel, “On the Road.”
“Two nights ago I was hanging out with Carolyn Cassady,” Hedlund says. Cassady’s the widow of Neal Cassady, Hedlund’s character, a pivotal person in Keroauc’s life and one of the inspirations for “On the Road.” “Yesterday morning, I was driving a 1949 Hudson Hornet across the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. We finished the scene, I stopped the car, jumped on a plane, and flew to LA for the premiere of ‘Tron.’ Hollywood Boulevard was all lit up and ‘TRON’ blue. Surreal.
“Then the next morning, I get up and start talking to reporters about these movies I’m so proud of,” Hedlund says. “I just don’t know how to express my unbelievaty at all this. I know unbelievaty’s not a word! It’s more than unbelievable to me.”
Hedlund was in the 2004 big screen “Friday Night Lights,” playing the kid living with an abusive dad (Tim McGraw). He had a role in the hit 2005 action hit “Four Brothers,” billed well below star Mark Wahlberg.
Now, at 26, he’s getting his shot in “two roles, two films, that could not be more opposite.” But they both came about, he believes, because of “On the Road,” which he was cast in way back in 2007.
“Two years went by, and we were all at a point of giving up…I was still completely on board, utterly believing in the project. I was going to the Coinstar machine just to come up with walking around money.
“But I had the confidence of having ‘On the Road’ in the works when I walked into rooms to meet with casting people. I had that going in to read for ‘Tron.’ And I had it with ‘Country Strong,’ too. This movie that was in danger of not being made backed me up.”
The Roseau, Minnesota native says his rural Midwestern roots played a part in landing his big break roles, starring opposite two Oscar winners (Jeff Bridges in ‘Tron,’ Paltrow in ‘Country Strong.’).
“Joe Kosinski, who directed ‘Tron,’ is from Iowa, and we met and had this immediate Midwest connection. I bought into his vision, the movie he was going for, and he believed in me as Sam Flynn.”