The Actor Who Will Play Jeff Buckley Can Sing Like Him, Too

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 6 2012 1:19 PM

Penn Badgley Unveils His Jeff Buckley Impression

Penn Badgley in June

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Coach

Penn Badgley—an actor best known for Gossip Girl, though he gave a solid performance in Margin Call as well—is one of at least two (and possibly three) young men who will soon be playing the late singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley on screen. He is the lead in Greetings from Tim Buckley, which was filmed last summer. As the title suggests, the movie focuses on Jeff's relationship to his father, Tim, who was also a singer and songwriter. The filmmakers do not have the rights to Jeff's own music—those were secured by the people behind an authorized biopic based partly on the book Dream Brother and blessed by the mother of Jeff, Mary Guibert, one-time wife of Tim. That other movie will star Reeve Carney. (The third movie supposedly in the works, A Pure Drop, is based on a different book; it does not appear to have a star as yet.)

Only time will tell whether Badgley and Carney (and whomever is cast in the third movie, if it happens) can convincingly portray Buckley on screen. But the former, we have just learned, can at least sing like the man—which is no small feat. Over the weekend, he showed up at a club in New York and performed three songs, one of which was "Lilac Wine," a James Shelton tune that Buckley memorably recorded for his only complete studio album, Grace. Badgley pretty much nails Buckley's soaring rendition—and accompanies himself on guitar to boot. Suddenly I am more curious about this movie. No release date has been announced.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.


War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The NFL Has No Business Punishing Players for Off-Field Conduct. Leave That to the Teams.

Meet the Allies the U.S. Won’t Admit It Needs in Its Fight Against ISIS

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Medical Examiner

How to Stop Ebola

Survivors might be immune. Let’s recruit them to care for the infected.


America in Africa

The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.

New GOP Claim: Hillary Clinton’s Wealth and Celebrity Are Tricks to Disguise Her Socialism

Why the Byzantine Hiring Process at Universities Drives Academics Batty

Sept. 23 2014 3:29 PM The Fascinating Origins of Savannah, Georgia’s Distinctive Typeface
  News & Politics
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM America in Africa The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM Why Your Cousin With a Ph.D. Is a Basket Case  Understanding the Byzantine hiring process that drives academics up the wall.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 23 2014 11:37 PM How to Stop Ebola Could survivors safely care for the infected?
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?