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January 12, 2011

‘Tron: Legacy’: Garrett Hedlund’s hard times on the road to fame

Posted in: Movies

Rebecca Keegan has a Los Angeles Times Calendar cover story Tuesday on “Tron: Legacy” star Garrett Hedlund, who is making his mark with roles in “Country Strong” and the upcoming adaptation of “On the Road.” Here’s an excerpt…

garrett hedlund ricardo dearatanha Tron: Legacy: Garrett Hedlunds hard times on the road to fame

Garrett Hedlund (Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)

In 2007, Brazilian director Walter Salles cast Garrett Hedlund as beat character Dean Moriarty in a long-gestating adaptation of Kerouac’s “On the Road” that Francis Ford Coppola was producing. Hedlund, thrilled to earn a serious, artistic, leading role that relied on his vulnerability as much as his physicality, swore to Salles he would take no other part until “On the Road” got off the ground. In a reflection either of his naivete about the fragility of independent film financing or his commitment to Salles — or some combination of the two — Hedlund didn’t work for the next two years. While waiting for financing for “On the Road” to come together, he spent his time reading everything he could find on the Beat Generation and visited a New York museum that was exhibiting the original scroll upon which Kerouac had written the book.

By the time he auditioned to play Jeff Bridges’ son in “Tron” in the fall of 2008 — a long shot leading role in a potential studio franchise — Hedlund was taking loose change to Coinstar machines to get money for gas. “We were doing a pretty exhaustive search for Sam Flynn,” says Sean Bailey, Disney’s president of production and “Tron’s” producer. “Physically and demeanor-wise, we needed someone who could credibly stand against Jeff Bridges. We wanted a classic leading man, but the character we were casting had grown up with some complicated issues, had a certain stoicism and a quiet confidence, and also athleticism. It’s a hard combination to find.”

Bailey and “Tron” director Joseph Kosinski felt they had found that combination in Hedlund, but there was a wrinkle. “He was so creatively committed to ‘On the Road,'” Bailey says. “He was really conflicted about going ahead…”

THERE’S MORE, READ THE REST

— Rebecca Keegan

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