'Country Strong' Director: Garrett Hedlund 'Auditioned In a Karaoke Bar'


"He literally went from singing a Pearl Jam song to singing country like the best of them," Shana Feste tells THR.

Country Strong director Shana Feste will go to any lengths to make sure she has the right actor in the perfect role.

Case in point: up-and-coming actor Garrett Hedlund, also star of Tron: Legacy.

"Garrett auditioned in a karaoke bar," Feste told The Hollywood Reporter at the film's L.A. premiere Tuesday. "It was not very conventional. But I had never heard him sing and he was really nervous and singing for the first time. We wanted to make it really fun."

Hedlund, who plays rising singer-songwriter Beau Hutton, suggested to Feste that they meet at the Brass Monkey and "do karaoke together."

"We had a few drinks and he got up there and started singing and was definitely not the sound that he is at now, which is amazing, because he literally went from singing a Pearl Jam song to singing country like the best of them," Feste said, who just finished a script titled Outlaws that she is also hoping to direct.

The young director also talked about working with a veteran country singer like Tim McGraw and whether that was helpful to the project's growth.

"At the end of the day, we weren't making a documentary about country music," she said. "Some things are better for the story if they are not totally realistic. But Tim and Gwyneth [Paltrow] and Garrett and Leighton [Meester] were all very helpful."

She added: "This is about a life in the limelight and they all know what press conferences are like and they all know what it is like backstage in the green room, so I was asking Gwyneth, 'Hey, when you go see [husband] Chris [Martin] backstage, does it look like this?' and I was asking Leighton, 'When you are talking to the press, how are they pointing their microphones?.' "