Does Penn Badgley Play the Guitar?

Celebrity Q&A, Featured Article
on June 25, 2013
Penn Badgley
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Did Penn Badgley actually play guitar and sing in “Greetings From Tim Buckley”?
—Yolanda Freemyer, Alexandria, Va.

One of the reasons the former “Gossip Girl” star, 26, was jazzed about getting to play Jeff Buckley in the biopic about Jeff and his musician father, Tim Buckley, is that in real life, Badgley plays guitar, bass and sings. “Greetings” allowed him to combine his love of music with acting.

Badgley, who in 1998 recorded a pop single—which he won’t name because he claims it is too embarrassing—took guitar and vocal lessons for the role, wanting to prepare “200 percent.”

“Music has always been my first passion,” the Baltimore, Md.-born actor/singer says. “I was 14 when I first learned the guitar.”

“Greetings From Tim Buckley” is the story of how Jeff Buckley—a singer/songwriter in the ‘90s known for his cover of Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah”—while rehearsing for his public singing debut at a Brooklyn tribute show for his father, begins to discover the potential of his own musical voice.

Badgley was familiar with Jeff’s music prior to agreeing to play him in the movie. He says, “I listened to him a lot when I was a teenager. I went through a six-month phase where I just drank in his ‘Grace’ album.”

As a result, Badgley, who recorded the concert portion of the film live, knew better than to try to imitate the late singer, who drowned in 1997 at the age of 30. He says, “It was a blurry line to walk. I can’t sing exactly like him. He’s Jeff Buckley. Anyone who tries to sound exactly like him will just simply fail. So it was just like short of that.”