After stepping into the spotlight in the title role of the ongoing Broadway musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," Reeve Carney landed his first major film role when it was announced on Monday (Aug. 15) that he has been cast as Jeff Buckley in a still-untitled biopic about the late singer-songwriter. Carney, 28, tells Billboard.com that he's "excited to go headfirst" into playing Buckley in the forthcoming film, which will be directed by Jake Scott ("Welcome to the Rileys").
"I think we're all on the same page in wanting to make something that honors Jeff's life and his legacy," says Carney, who will perform all of the singing in the film. "There's something about Jeff -- there's so much mystery surrounding his existence. He just had this… mystic quality, that's similar to what James Dean had."
Carney first discovered Buckley's music at the age of 16, when his friend noticed that Carney looked a lot like the acclaimed songwriter, who died in 1997. A decade later, Carney met Buckley's mother, Mary Guibert, at a concert at which his rock group, Carney, had performed; the two kept in touch over the past two years before Carney was called in to audition for the film, which Guibert will executive-produce.
"I went in for the film auditions multiple times over two months, and Mary called me and told me, 'We'd like you to be our Jeff.' It was a very meaningful moment for me, having his mother call me and say that to me," says Carney.
While the Scott-directed biopic has exclusively secured the rights to Buckley's music, another film, "Greetings From Tim Buckley," is about to begin production with Penn Badgley starring as Jeff Buckley. However, Carney says that the other film will be so different that any comparisons between the two are unfounded.
"I read both scripts, and… I don't see them as competing at all. I think the only similarity between the two is the fact that the character's named Jeff Buckley," says Carney. "I was thrilled to be involved in something that tells Jeff's story and focus on his life, and also be in something that his mother is involved in. And being able to sing his songs -- with the other film, you're talking about if they don't use Jeff's songs, and I love Jeff's songs, so I was really happy to be a part of a film that showcases his music."
Carney is currently brushing up on the late singer-songwriter's catalogue -- he says his favorite Buckley song is "Lover, You Should've Come Over" -- while juggling his responsibilities as the star of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." The biopic is expected to begin production later this year, but Carney hopes it doesn't spell the end of his Broadway run.
"I'm loving doing it and it's a great job," he says. "If I do take a break… I don't know how much time if any I have to take off from 'Spider-Man' to do the Buckley project, but if I do, I'm gonna be returning to Spider-Man afterwards."