‘Gossip Girl’ star Penn Badgley on playing Jeff Buckley: ‘I knew I could do it’

Actor says he knew he could hit Buckley's high notes, but tried not to 'mimic' the late singer

Gossip Girl star Penn Badgley has insisted that he had no concerns about singing like Jeff Buckley in his new movie.

Badgley plays the late singer in Greetings From Tim Buckley, a film that follows his early struggles to forge a recording career as he grapples with the overbearing legacy of his musician father. Last month (August), a video emerged of Badgley singing ‘Lilac Wine’, a 1950s standard famously covered by Buckley for his 1994 album ‘Grace’.

When asked whether he was worried about hitting Buckley’s high notes, Badgley told Vulture: “I mean this in just the most plain way: I knew I could do it. I was not concerned about the singing. I was concerned about doing it in the right way, because I actually can imitate him more than I did in the movie. I could have maybe focused more on the mimicry. But I decided not to.”

Continuing, Badgley explained that he focused on capturing Buckley’s unique “energy” rather than impersonating the singer to the letter. He said: “I wasn’t going to augment my voice and sound like Michael Jackson the whole time, because Jeff had a very high speaking voice, a full octave higher than mine. I’m a little more muscular than he was, I wasn’t quite as thin. My hair wasn’t as long as it was at that time, but it also looked a little like the ‘Grace’ cover.”

Explaining how he tried to tap into Buckley’s mindset, Badgley added: “I would meditate on words like “feline” and “feminine,” because he’s like a feral cat. What made him so beautiful is that he was a man, but he was so feminine, too. He was gentle, but he also had such rage. I had to take all of his energy in.”

Alongside Badgley, Greetings From Tim Buckley stars Ben Rosenfield, Imogen Poots, Anthrax bassist Frank Bello and Kate Nash. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month (September), but has no confirmed release date yet. Scroll down to watch the trailer.