Badgley, best known for his role as Dan Humphrey on "Gossip Girl," boldly does his own singing and guitar playing as Buckley in "Greetings," and his performance is a visceral standout in an otherwise quiet film. In one particularly memorable scene, Badgley as Jeff visits a record store with his love interest Allie (Imogen Poots) and bursts into song whenever she holds up a different album. That includes Led Zeppelin's "III," whose vocals and guitar arpeggios Badgley impeccably recreates with his voice, eventually falling to his knees and enthralling the whole store in the process.
Badgley performed all his singing scenes completely live -- if only for the technical ease it lent the very independent production.
"It would've been hard to do without the live performance, even if I'd done singing afterward or recorded it before, which is more common, it would've stolen everything we had going for us with the vibe," Badgley said in an onstage Q&A for American Express cardmembers after the premiere Tuesday night. "It was almost impossible to rehearse — we often had no time."
The actor's vocals were also praised by Anthrax's Frank Bello, who portrays punk icon Richard Hell in the film. "I was a Jeff Buckley fan, and you had balls of steel to do the singing and get the acoustic and just go for it," he told his costar.
The film was shot as Badgley was wrapping up "Gossip Girl," which further cut into his rehearsal time – though he was able to brush up on his guitar-playing skills, having played off and on for the last 10 years.
The film was directed by Dan Algrant ("People I Know," "Naked In New York"), an admitted novice to the realm of both Buckleys who quickly became educated on both musicians during the film process.
"[Producer] Fred Zollo started playing me Tim and Jeff Buckley songs and I began to get into them for the first time," Algrant said during the audience Q&A. "But when I leapt emotionally into it was the first time I heard the original concert. I just freaked out at these lyrics and [co-screenwriter] Emma [Sheanshang] and I would just go, 'Wow this Live in London album, who the heck would allow people to forget these songs?' He was a little bit before my time but something we try to remember now. We were hoping this would bring people back to this music."