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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?.’ “
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