Penn Badgley

Tribeca Exclusive Interview: Penn Badgley Talks The Legacy Of Jeff Buckley

Penn Badgley is certainly in the middle of having a moment. Getting his start on teenage fodder like Gossip Girl and John Tucker Must Die, the actor is taking a risky step outside of his usual repertoire with Greetings From Tim Buckley. Seen as one of the buzzed about performances of the Tribeca Film Festival, Badgley is deserving of the attention just for putting himself in the vulnerable position of playing the legendary musician Jeff Buckley.

What’s intriguing about Badgley’s performance is that he does an enormous amount of legwork as a musician for the film. A particular scene in a record store sees Badgley riff just as Buckley would, which gives a familiar sense that a legend simply unaware by the talent he possesses is on the precipice of something grander. That quality and the natural naivete Badgley has in his grasp is what pushes the film along.

What Penn has to his advantage is the film’s narrative. A story that’s more about the connection between an estranged father and son, this is by no means a literal interpretation of a Jeff Buckley biopic. In many ways, the audience is invited to efface any knowledge they may know about Buckley. Pinpointing what he meant to people proves to be a hard thing to reckon with and isn’t the main story for Greetings. Instead Badgley is left to examine reminiscent traits of a young man who hasn’t yet hit his stride as a musician while simultaneously having to deal with being in his father’s shadow.

The Inquisitr’sNiki Cruz sat down with Penn Badgley to discuss the task of taking on a complex legend and the connection between father and son.


THE INQUISITR: Do you have a favorite Jeff Buckley song?

PENN BADGLEY: His live cover of Strange Fruit initially turned me on to him and it will always be my favorite. It’s not written by him but I think he was a different kind of artist where he wasn’t a typical writer. He was first and foremost an interpreter.

THE INQUISITR: By any chance, did you read David Browne’s book Dream Brother? Both the film and the book are similar in their narratives.

BADGLEY: Is it a parallel story, from what I gather? I’ve only read A Pure Drop.

THE INQUISITR: This movie is a turning point in Jeff Buckley’s life where he decides he wants to become a musician. What was the turning point for you?

BADGLEY: My turning point when I decided to be an actor was through music. I always loved to sing, and I did musical theater when I was 9. I was living in the sticks in Washington State and it was like a social outlet. It was a happy accident.

THE INQUISITR: You’re also a songwriter, so did anything about this film influence how you write songs or play music?

BADGLEY: Yeah. I think I was playing my own music, and writing my own music more than I ever had while also taking the role on. It influenced me in a lot of ways. In things that are not only musical but as an actor, and creatively for life directions I may take in the future. It influenced me in a lot of ways that I think that I will only start to see as time goes on.

Penn Badgley