Producers of the upcoming Jeff Buckley biopic Greetings from Tim Buckley announced Monday that Gossip Girl heartthrob Penn Badgley would play the singer-songwriter with a tragic story. Undoubtedly a controversial choice, Badgley released a statement expressing his seriousness about the role saying, “To play a man who was singularly gifted as an artist, greatly misunderstood and mythologized as a human being… It’s something very special and sacred. I’m going to give all I can to this project.”
But is he actually ready for a role as dramatic as Buckley? Can he even sing?
There are some factors working against Badgley: Even though the actor played Gossip Girl’s most artsy hunk, the sarcastically angst Dan Humphrey, Badgley will have to deal with the fact that a Buckley biopic is certainly weightier than any heavy episode of the CW series. (We are, after all, talking about a beloved musician who died at the age of 30 in an accidental drowning.) Also, though Badgley looks enough like Buckley to silence the superficial critics, it could be hard for him to escape the pretty boy label leading into the film. And, finally, his name will now be placed aside a list of actors supposedly eager to play Buckley, some of whom already garnered fan support: Another Buckley biopic developed by Welcome to the Rileys director Jake Scott and Buckley’s mother had Robert Pattinson circling and fans pleading for James Franco, a thespian who looks the most like Buckley of the three.
But we must return to the most important question: Can he sing? Though there is no word on whether or not Badgley will lend his own vocals to the film, he has some experience as a singer and even showed-off his own version of Green Day’s “Good Riddance” on the short-lived series Do Over. (See video of his performance here.) Unfortunately, though the performance is nearly a decade old, the rendition is not quite up to par – if he is going to perform for the film, I’d vote he undergoes some vocal coaching to get down to Buckley’s deeper register. But, hey, no shame: The Oscar-nominated Joaquin Phoenix also went to professionals while filming Walk the Line.
Of course, we can’t be too quick to judge – it remains to be seen how the larger community of Buckley fans will react to the casting, especially once the film hits the big screen. And perhaps more folks will jump on board once they finally see Badgley take on more serious roles, as he’ll do with this fall’s Margin Call, a financial thriller co-starring Kevin Spacey and Paul Bettany. The film, which competed at Sundance and Berlin, revolves around the bosses at an investment bank on the advent of the financial crisis, and certainly sounds like Badgley’s most weighty role to date. The actor could very well surprise us all – after all, he comes from the same series that delivered us Blake Lively, a star who similarly impressed us with her first serious movie role in The Town.
How do you feel about the casting, PopWatchers? Is the Gossip Girl actor too much of a pretty boy, or are you pumped to see what he brings to the table?