Gossip Girl actor Penn Badgley is officially confirmed to portray Jeff Buckley in an upcoming biopic about the Grace singer, the son of rock great Tim Buckley. Contrary to previous reports, however, Badgley will not star as Buckley in the biopic that actors like James Franco and Robert Pattinson were eyeing, the "official" one being executive produced by Buckley's mother Mary Guibert. Instead, Badgley will appear in a competing Buckley film called Greetings From Tim Buckley, a movie that documents Jeff Buckley's 1991 performance at a Tim Buckley tribute concert at Brooklyn, New York's St. Ann's Church, the Playlist reports. That performance, which featured Jeff singing many of his father's greatest songs, marked Jeff Buckley's first-ever live appearance. Filming on Greetings From Tim Buckley begins this August.
"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," Badgley said in a statement. "I'm going to give all I can to this project."
The Greetings From Tim Buckley announcement comes as excellent news to Twilight's Robert Pattinson, who was reportedly heartbroken after failing to score the Buckley role in the official biopic, which is apparently still available.
So there are two in-the-works biopics dedicated to Buckley, whotragically died in a swimming accident in 1997 at the age of 30. Youmight not know this, but Hollywood loves scheduling competing biopics,as if purposely conspiring against one another. Just take Truman Capote(Capote, Infamous), Steve Prefontaine(Without Limits, Prefontaine), and even historicalevents like the gunfight at the OK Corral (Tombstone, WyattEarp) -- they're all feature films covering similar subjectmatter that were released within a year of each other.
Fourteen yearsafter Buckley's death seems like a strange time to revisit the singer'slife on film, but Buckley's music has experienced a second wind ofpopularity in recent years, thanks to everyone from American Idol toJustin Timberlake covering Buckley's rendition of Leonard Cohen's"Hallelujah."
But the question remains: Can Badgley handle the Buckley role, a portrayal that would probably require more acting than say, being Dan Humphries on Gossip Girl, or playing the brother in John Tucker Must Die? It's one thing to have a supporting role in Easy A, it's another to carry a film on your back. As The Amp noted when the Badgley/Buckley news emerged last week, Penn definitely has the look to portray the rocker, but his acting resume is sorely lacking. However, Greetings From Tim Buckley may become to Badgley what the April 29th, 1991 concert featured in the film became to Jeff Buckley: a breakout performance.
The boots Badgley will have to fill:
[Photo: Neilson Barnard/WireImage.com]