The Battle of the Jeff Buckley Biopics

by | Aug 18th, 2011 | 8:00AM | Filed under: Hum Along, News

Buckley (top), Badgley (left), and Carney

Snow White isn’t the only one getting double movie coverage these days. There are currently three projects about the late alt-rock singer songwriter Jeff Buckley in various stages of production.

Back in June, Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl, Easy A) was cast as Buckley in the film Greetings from Tim Buckley. And this week Reeve Carney (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) was cast in a separate untitled Buckley biopic.

After years as a session guitarist, Jeff Buckley rose to prominence in 1994 with the release of his first album Grace. His intense, haunting vocals and raw emotional power earned him critical acclaim and a devoted and rapidly growing fanbase.

But in May 1997 a fully clothed Buckley went for a night swim in a Memphis harbor channel off the Mississippi River and drowned at the age of 30.

The sensitive singer-songwriter and guitarist’s greatest mainstream fame came posthumously as numerous films, TV shows, and contestants in singing competitions began to use his aching cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” to convey meloncholy angst, mournful regret, and/or bitter hope.

The Badgley biopic has begun shooting in New York City. It’s being directed by Daniel Algrant and focuses on the 24 hours leading up to Buckley’s 1991 breakout performance at a tribute show for his late musician father called “Greetings from Tim Buckley.” The older Buckley was an avant-guarde psychedelic folk singer who died of an overdose in 1975 at the age of 28, when Jeff was eight years old.

The newest Buckley actor, Reeve Carney, is best known for working with director Julie Taymor in her 2010 Shakespeare film The Tempest and her ill-fated Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. While Robert Pattinson had been rumored in the running for the second Buckley role, Carney is a musician in real-life (as well as the great nephew of Art Carney) and fronts the band Carney.

The untitled Carney Buckley film is set to start shooting in November and will be a broader life story based on the biography Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley by David Browne. It’s being helmed by Jake Scott (son of Ridley and director of Plunkett & Macleane, Welcome to the Rileys and numerous music videos) and unlike Greetings, has the cooperation of Buckley’s mother and exclusive rights to use the singer-songerwriter’s music.

(A third Buckley biopic, A Pure Drop, is also in the works in Australia from director Brendan Fletcher, based on the biography A Pure Drop: The Life of Jeff Buckley by Jeff Apter.)

In 1994, while I was living in Iowa City, friends dragged me out to a show at the local rock club, a 250-person room. I didn’t know anything about the musician we were seeing, but halfway through the amazing show–soaring, searing rapture and ruin topped by an ethereal voice roaming from tenor to falsetto–my friend turned to me and said, “For the rest of their lives, people will be telling others about being at this show.”

He was absolutely right.




More music and performance-themed films from redbox:

2 Responses to “The Battle of the Jeff Buckley Biopics”

  1. Trevor L
    Posted on August 18, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Shoulda been Chris Evans playing him, have thought so for a few years. They look so much alike.

  2. Lizzie
    Posted on August 18, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I mistaken the 1st picture for Rob Patz, but I’m sure he has “limited” singing ability.