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There’s no turning back for Garrett Hedlund. The 26-year-old, who left his parents cattle farm in Roseau, Minn., in 2003 to pursue an acting career in Los Angeles, is bound for Hollywood stardom, thanks to his breakout roles in “Tron: Legacy” and “Country Strong,” which opens in theaters this Friday. The Moment met up with the actor in a nondescript Brooklyn diner, the kind of place that Hedlund says he pictured himself working in if the whole acting thing hadn’t worked out.

Your career is at a pivotal point. What would you say is one of the biggest obstacles you had to overcome since you started acting?
My biggest thing has always been privacy. With an interview such as this where the questions are about me, I struggle to express myself. I have an immediate answer in my head of what I’d say, but sometimes I feel that it would be too honest. So these wheels of censorship start going around my head.

Have you always been such a private person?
I guess so. I grew up on a farm in a small town where you do or say one thing and everybody knows about it. You see it happen, there’s always the town gossip — “oh did you hear about so and so, or did you hear what went on in this household?” So I learned at a very young age just to keep my mouth shut.

Jeff Bridges, who plays your dad in “Tron: Legacy,” won an Oscar shortly after you guys finished filming. Is there anything that you learned from working with him?
I learn from everyone I work with. I always enjoy watching how people react in specific situations, and if they are as comfortable on set as they are off set. With Jeff it was just nice to be working with an actor that listens and reacts — working with somebody that knows how the scene is supposed to go and isn’t married to the dialogue. You try to stick to the dialogue, but sometimes getting the point across is more important.

How did you prepare for your role in “Tron: Legacy”?
The physical demands for preparing for this role were very extensive and lasted through the entire film. I had to get my motorcycle license, and go to motorcycle training every morning from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., and then drive two miles away to go do physical combat training: punches, knees and kicks. And then go into hard-core training for an hour, jumping over things and lifting weights for an hour.

So you got in great shape. That doesn’t sound so bad.
[Laughs] Yeah, I guess. But then for “Country Strong,” as much work that I put into getting in great shape, I had to put in to get into the exact opposite shape.

What was it like working on two completely different films back to back?
“Love Don’t Let Me Down,” which is the original title of “Country Strong,” was just as difficult emotionally as “Tron” was physically. I play a country singer that basically gets on tour with Gwyneth Paltrow’s character, who is one of the biggest country stars out there, and she’s fallen down too many times and it’s an intense emotional story.

And what did you have to do to prepare for this film?
We filmed in Nashville for two months, and we got there a month early. Tim McGraw has a cabin out on his ranch so I stayed there for the month of December, and kept up with all the guitar rehearsals, ’cause I never knew how to play the guitar before. For four months after “Tron,” I sang and played the guitar every day.

Do you own a motorcycle now or play the guitar?
No. I loved the Ducati Sport 1000 I got to drive in the film, but driving a motorcycle in L.A., knowing how wild I can be at times, would be just a little too careless and selfish for my life. Being able to split the traffic and the freeway seems like something I might like a little too much. But the guitar I’ll keep up. Not publicly performing, but as a private passion. It’s too fulfilling for me to stop.

How is your life in L.A. when you are not working?
I don’t really leave the house that much. When I’m away filming, I never really get to watch any films, or I slip away from my books and the novels I’ve been wanting to read, so when I get home I really just kick my feet up and read everything I meant to read and write what I couldn’t write, or watch what I just couldn’t drag myself to the theater to watch when I was in a different city.

What are you currently reading?
I’m working through getting through all of Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time.”

Would you ever go back to living in a farm?
Yeah. I feel that everything that pulled me to the city slowly pushes me away from it, and everything I grew up with that pushed me away from the farm is what’s pulling me back. The peace and quiet and the freedom that I actually never realized meant as much as it did. We didn’t have any neighbors for miles, woodlands to run around in. We had a lot of things to catapult our imagination when you didn’t even know what imagination was. Life’s too short when you find yourself sitting in a car for four hours every day trying to get from East L.A. to West L.A. to Hollywood and then back to East L.A.

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06 Jan, 2011



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