You had to die in that movie. It’s hard to imagine
your death when you’re
only a teenager.
I didn’t know how I was going to die. I didn’t get much sleep the night before that scene, and finally, at 5 a.m., I decided to rehearse a little bit. I got down on the floor and started gagging and dry heaving. [Laughs.] I said, “That’s it—that’s how I’ll die.”
After Troy, you went to Texas to play the star wide
receiver in Friday Night Lights. Had you played football in
Yes, but I was always on defense—not in the glory positions. I wasn’t the quarterback or the one making the touchdowns. I loved playing, but I hated to practice. Which is strange, because I like doing research for a character. For Troy, I studied The Iliad. I’m not sure I would have read it as carefully if it had been assigned for school.
Did you read On the Road in class? You’re
currently playing Dean Moriarty, perhaps the coolest guy ever, in the
I remember reading the book in high school, and then, three years ago, I went online, and it said, “Francis Ford Coppola is producing this.” Now we’re halfway through filming, and I still can’t believe I’m a part of it. In ’07 I auditioned for the part twice. On my birthday that September, I was flying back from New York and I had to land in Chicago for a layover. When I got to the gate, my father called and sang me “Happy Birthday,” and at the same time I received an e-mail saying I got the part in On the Road. I boarded the plane so happy. When I landed in L.A., I got another call from Minnesota: After he hung up the phone with me, my father had a heart attack. He’s doing fine now, but that’s life—a great amount of good is always evened out by a great amount of bad. I find it’s best to acknowledge that weird balance.
[Hedlund’s phone rings. He picks it up and skips it against the floor like a rock across a lake. The phone bashes into the wall.] If I was in a car, that phone would be out the window. [Laughs.] I’m not good with phones and gadgets and stuff. I don’t appreciate them the way others do. You know how when somebody gets a new car, they are so worried about that first scratch, but after that everything’s fine? Well, I just say, “Everything to me in life is like the second scratch.”