'Gossip Girl' actor Penn Badgley surprises in film role as singer

Thu May 2, 2013 5:47pm EDT
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Penn Badgley, best known for his role as a hip young New Yorker on television series "Gossip Girl," is now claiming a place in the spotlight by headlining a feature film for the first time and showing off his previously hidden singing talents.

Badgley, 26, stars as late U.S. musician Jeff Buckley in the indie film "Greetings From Tim Buckley," opening in limited release in U.S. movie theaters on Friday.

The film chronicles Buckley in the days leading up to his first public performance at age 25: a 1991 tribute concert at New York's St. Ann's Church for his late father, experimental rock great Tim Buckley.

In theory, a TV star with a big following of teenage fans may have seemed an unlikely choice to play the brooding musician who died of an accidental drowning at the age of 30.

The film's director Daniel Algrant told Reuters even his own producers had those same reservations - casting a "kid from a teeny-bopper show" to play the soulful, reserved Buckley.

But luckily, Algrant had never heard of "Gossip Girl" and cast Badgley based on his audition tape.

"I wanted someone who was willing to take risks and on this tape, he took so many risks," the director said.

Among them is a scene that takes place in a record store where Buckley sings several different songs as he tries to impress a young girl.   Continued...

Actor Penn Badgley poses for a portrait in New York, April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton