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

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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.

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