Minnesota farm is far behind for actor

Growing up on a beef-cattle farm near Sandquist, Minn., population 81, half an hour’s drive from Canada, “Four Brothers” star Garrett Hedlund never seriously considered the possibility that he might become a performer.
His father had encouraged him to appear in church Christmas pageants, and he played trombone and sang in the choir. But mostly Hedlund imitated people to break up the monotony of driving the tractor, driving the swather, raking the field, cultivating the garden, calving, checking the electric fence for shorts and catching pocket gophers for pocket money: The local county agent paid $2 a head for the varmints.

“We were trapping gophers continuously,” the 20-year-old actor said. “There’s always something to be done on the farm. I was always jealous of somebody that all he had to do was go outside and put his trash in the can.”

The National Hockey League’s famous Broten brothers, Aaron, Neal and Paul, were heroes in nearby Roseau, and Roger Maris was from Fargo. In junior high, Hedlund figured his ticket would be pro sports, with acting a fanciful Plan B.

“I thought, `If Roger Maris can do it ,’-” he recalled.

Instead he hit a home run on his first Hollywood audition.

At 14, he moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., with his mother, Kristi Hedlund, and the film industry suddenly felt tantalizingly close at hand. He began studying Tennessee Williams and David Mamet and analyzing characters in secret.

“I never told anybody,” he said.

But Hedlund did pester Los Angeles’ top talent agencies: “I would try to get Bernie Brillstein [a legendary Hollywood agent/manager/producer] on the phone to say, `Hey, I’m an aspiring actor coming out to L.A.!’ They’d never pick up the phone.”

During three years as a model for L.L. Bean and Teen magazine, Hedlund doubled up on his class credits so he could graduate six months early.

“I knew that I wanted to get out there for January,” he said. “There were a lot of auditions that went on around that period. I begged my mom to sign off on the early-graduation form. Even if she wouldn’t have, I probably would have forged it.”

He packed his clothes in an S-10 pickup and lit out for California with no clear idea of where he would stay. A month later, a Warner Bros. casting agent thought Hedlund looked enough like Brad Pitt to play his cousin and hired him for that role in “Troy,” Wolfgang Petersen’s 2004 all-star dramatization of “The Iliad.”

“By the time my high-school class was actually graduating, I was already in Malta,” he said, working alongside Peter O’Toole, Orlando Bloom and Julie Christie.

His follow-up, “Friday Night Lights,” cast him as a troubled Texas high-school football player alongside Billy Bob Thornton and Tim McGraw.

“Him and Faith [Hill] played at my county fair when I was 10 years old, and now he’s playing my father,” Hedlund marveled.

In “Four Brothers,” he sports a wild Brian Setzer bouffant and sleeves of tattoos as a rocker who reunites with his adoptive siblings to find their mother’s killer. It’s his biggest role to date, and the film’s posters feature him equally alongside Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson and OutKast’s Andre Benjamin.

The producer, Lorenzo DiBonaventura (“The Matrix”), says it’s going to make Hedlund a big star.

“I just feel very fortunate to work with the people I get to work with,” Hedlund said, although they gave him grief about growing up on the ice in Minnesota while filming a wild free-for-all on a hockey rink. Body-checking his co-stars into the glass “was one of the best parts of the shoot,” he said.

Hedlund learned a few things about playing a musician from his multiplatinum cast members. A self-described “karaoke freak,” Hedlund “was singing Tyrese songs on the set,” Benjamin said.

Hedlund carries a few key scenes and adds to the film’s raunchy humor in a bathroom sequence where he moons Wahlberg, a move he improvised on the spot.

“I’ve probably done a lot more ridiculous things and not gotten paid for it,” he said.

His favorite actors – Jack Nicholson, John Malkovich, Peter Sellers, Peter O’Toole – have had long and diverse careers, and his representatives aim to guide him along a similar path.

Brillstein signed a book for Hedlund recently. It said, “Now that you’re a client, I’m going to return your phone calls.”

_____________________________________
Those poor gophers …

Source

Flashback Sunday - 2005 Article
Laura ReTweet
24 Apr, 2011



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