Saturday, January 8, 2011

'Country Strong' Star Garrett Hedlund Recalls His Country-Music Roots

'[Co-star] Tim McGraw and the other great country stars filled the airwaves,' he tells MTV News about growing up on a farm.
By Jocelyn Vena, with reporting by Josh Horowitz

Garrett Hedlund
Photo: MTV News

Garrett Hedlund really is just a small-town guy at the end of the day. So when he hit the set of "Country Strong," which opened Friday (January 7), he embraced his Minnesota farm boy beginnings and his early love of country music.

In the flick he plays Beau Hutton, a young country music songwriter who plays a pivotal role in the life of former country star Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow), as she tries to reclaim her country throne. Beau also falls for a country singer newbie named Chiles, who's played by "Gossip Girl" star Leighton Meester.

"I mean, country, it was the only thing we listened to on the farm with the one radio station," Hedlund recalled to MTV News about his childhood. "You try to veer from it and you to go to rock and then to rap, and then country on this film kind of pulled me back home."

Hedlund explained that his folkie roots helped him to relate better to his character. "And [with] 'Country Strong,' growing up on a farm, [my co-star] Tim McGraw and the other great country stars filled the airwaves around our house," he told the Orlando Sentinel.

"Our only radio station played only country music," he said.

Post-"Country Strong," Hedlund said he's fully embracing his Nashville-loving roots. "And now I'm solely country music once again," he explained. "Driving in L.A. and everything's a little tenacious; it can get a little intense."

While country music fans might expect 26-year-old Hedlund to cite some contemporary artists as favorites, the "Tron" star told MTV News singers like Taylor Swift and Keith Urban weren't primary influences for him on "Country Strong."

"I love old-school [artists like] Townes Van Zandt, a lot of the great singer/songwriters that have a lot of these great lyrics and these great stories and beautiful, sad stories."

Check out everything we've got on "Country Strong."

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