Garrett Hedlund isn't a country singer, but he plays a good one in the 2010 movie, Country Strong. In the motion picture, also featuring Tim McGraw, Gwyneth Paltrow and Leighton Meester, Hedlund plays a young country singer who goes on tour with country icon Kelly Canter (Paltrow). Fans of Hedlund from his previous roles in Troy, Friday Night Lights, Tron: Legacy and more may have been surprised by the actor's exceptional voice and convincing performance as a country star. While Hedlund isn't a country singer in real life, his upbringing sounds like something right out of a country song.
Hedlund currently lives in Los Angeles and is a new father to his son, Rhodes Robert Hedlund, whom he had with girlfriend, Emma Roberts. While he's living the big city life now, Hedlund was once surrounded by wide open spaces. He was born in Roseau, Minnesota on September 3, 1984 and grew up on a remote, 400-acre cattle ranch near the small town of Wannaska, Minnesota. Hedlund describes his childhood as the quintessential life on a small town farm, and although he's miles away from it now (both literally and figuratively), he wouldn't mind getting back to that simple life someday.
"Everything that pushed me away is what pulls me back now," he shared with Man of the World in 2018. "It's the kind of life I'd like to give my own kids when I have them. It could be boring and lonely as sh*t, and we would wish we had more material things, like cool toys, but then we'd disappear into the woods for days with a hammer and a bag of nails to build a tree fort."
The movie star also described being somewhat of a troublemaker as a child, stealing sweets from stores that his semi-strict father wouldn't let him buy.
"Mostly I'd steal candy because we weren't allowed that as kids," he shared. "We'd go on wrestling trips to different towns and we'd throw our bags down and go straight to the nearest convenience store, and come walking back with Kit Kats and Snickers and Pogs, which were a big thing then. Every other kid had money to buy things and I didn't."
Those small town farm memories fill his childhood, but not his teen years, as he moved to Arizona with his mother when he was 14. Hedlund described the move as a bit of a culture shock considering his new high school had "double the population" of his entire town. But it was there that Hedlund began taking the steps that would eventually lead him down his life path as an actor. It all started at the movie theater.
"I only liked going to the movies on my own, so I could really immerse myself in the experience," he said. "I knew nothing about movies back then. You could have shown me 20 pictures and I wouldn't have been able to tell you which actor was Marlon Brando, which was Sean Penn or Peter O'Toole."
He soon started taking acting classes in high school and modeling for catalogs. He also began reaching out to the acting world by mailing letters to Hollywood studios using addresses he found on the back of VHS tapes. Hedlund also started calling talent manager and producer Bernie Brillstein after reading his books, but didn't have much luck reaching him.
"I'd say, 'I'm an aspiring actor seeking representation. Would you sit down with me?' Of course, I never got a call back," he told the Grand Forks Herald. Brillstein Entertainment Partners did eventually sign him as a client.
Although his early attempts at seeking fame weren't successful, once he got his footing, Hedlund's star rose quickly. He finished high school early so he could move to Los Angeles, and it wasn't long before he was cast as Brad Pitt's cousin Patroclus in the ancient epic, Troy, released in 2004. From there, the roles kept coming and Hedlund starred in Friday Night Lights, Four Brothers, Eragon, Georgia Rule, Death Sentence, Tron: Legacy, Country Strong, and On The Road. His preparation for Country Strong included watching videos of country singers and living in a cabin outside Nashville owned by his co-star Tim McGraw, where he practiced guitar for his role.
Hedlund's career has continued to be strong since then. He has since appeared in Inside Llewyn Davis, Lullaby, Angelina Jolie's Oscar-nominated Unbroken, Mojave, Pan, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Mudbound, Netflix's Triple Frontier (alongside Ben Affleck), TV show Mosaic, Dirt Music, and more. Most recently, Hedlund can be seen playing Harry J. Anslinger in Hulu's The United States vs. Billie Holiday.