Traditionally, there’s only one golden-boy megastar a decade—in the Seventies, Sixties icon Steve McQueen handed the blond baton to Robert Redford, who, in the Eighties, passed it to Brad Pitt. While Pitt is still the reigning blond, Garrett Hedlund is his successor. He was first cast as Pitt’s look-alike cousin in Troy. And watching Hedlund’s performance in Country Strong, as an up-and-coming country music star who seduces two women, one is instantly reminded of Pitt’s breakthrough moment in Thelma & Louise. Hedlund is commanding, vulnerable, sexy. And he can sing. Apart from talent and the fact that he’s great-looking, the 26-year-old has that ineffable quality—star power. Which is why he will be the next one, the blond that defines the upcoming decade.
In Tron: Legacy, you play Jeff Bridges’s son,
who’s searching for his father in video-game outer space; and in
Country Strong, you’re a country singer entangled in a
love triangle. What’s more difficult—performing onstage in
front of a live audience or kissing someone you’ve just
They’re both a little tricky. When I read the Country Strong script, I thought, Can’t they just hand-double it? Can’t I just do the rest of the movie and not have to do the performing? It took me six months to learn to sing and play guitar at the same time. So I guess the kissing thing was easier.
Growing up in Minnesota, did you listen to country
I remember driving the tractor on our farm, and Tim McGraw would be on the radio. I’d find myself walking out of class, singing his songs. And then Tim ended up playing my father in Friday Night Lights. It was surreal.
How did you get from the farm in Minnesota to
Growing up, I would watch a movie on video and would go to the back of the VHS and locate the address for Universal Pictures or MGM or whatever. I’d write to the studios asking them if I could be in a movie. They never wrote me back. When I was 14, I moved to Arizona to live with my mother. Being in Arizona, I was only one state away from California. For two or three years, I flew to L.A. for auditions. I’d get out of school, fly into Burbank airport, get in a taxi, go to the audition, taxi back, fly back to Arizona, and go to school the next day. I remember the reaction to my first audition: I think the phrase was “You sucked pond water.”
But it got better fast: At 18, you were cast as Brad
Pitt’s cousin in Troy.
Yeah—when my senior prom was happening, I was in Malta filming Troy.