News / Arts & Entertainment

'Country Strong' Tells Story of Nashville Diva's Comeback After Personal Tragedy

Gwyneth Paltrow in a scene from COUNTRY STRONG
Gwyneth Paltrow in a scene from COUNTRY STRONG

Multimedia

Audio
Alan Silverman

Country music frames a new romantic drama starring Gwyneth Paltrow as a Nashville diva trying to come back after personal tragedy sidetracks her career. Here's a look at Country Strong.



"Nashville's Kelly Canter left rehab early this morning. You remember the country music star was arrested a few months ago for drunk and disorderly conduct."
"I feel okay, thanks."
"Kelly, do you have anything else to say to your fans?"
"I love you all. Thanks for coming out."


Kelly Canter is a star in trouble. After a drunken onstage fall that causes her to suffer a miscarriage, she sinks into a haze of depression and substance abuse.

"Do you care about Kelly? This is her last opportunity to turn things around."


Tim McGraw in scene from COUNTRY STRONG
Tim McGraw in scene from COUNTRY STRONG

Her husband and manager James, played by real-life country star Tim McGraw, is determined to revive Kelly's career, even though the tragic events have irreparably broken their marriage. Gwyneth Paltrow says she was drawn to, but also afraid of playing the damaged diva.

"I did feel fear at the beginning just because this character was in such a different place and was so different from me in so many ways," admits Paltrow. "But also I just didn't know how to do a lot of the things that she does, like play guitar and be addicted to pills and alcohol. There were so many things that I felt trepidation about taking on and doing believably. It was a big job for me. I've never prepared so much for anything and I was nervous when we started.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Garrett Hedlund in scene from COUNTRY STRONG
Gwyneth Paltrow and Garrett Hedlund in scene from COUNTRY STRONG

Garrett Hedlund, on screen recently as the young lead of Tron: Legacy, co-stars as Beau, who comes into Kelly's life as a staff member at the rehab clinic. An aspiring singer-songwriter, he moonlights playing his songs at a local honky-tonk bar. Hedlund says it took months of practice and study to gain the confidence it takes to get on stage and sing for an audience.

"It was all day every day listening to country [music] and getting every inflection of every song down," Hedlund says. "That makes it easier, I guess, but to be in the studio and sing the song week after week you find where it works and try to ride that wave. When you see that people are enjoying it, you enjoy it and you enjoy everything."

Leighton Meester in scene from COUNTRY STRONG
Leighton Meester in scene from COUNTRY STRONG

Leighton Meester, a co-star of the TV hit Gossip Girls, plays Chiles, a young beauty queen who idolizes superstar Kelly and hopes to follow in her footsteps.

The only key member of the cast with real country music experience is Tim McGraw, who does not sing a note as Kelly's husband-manager. A critic of most Hollywood movie versions of the music world, McGraw says the attempt at authenticity in Country Strong won him over.

"It's a movie, so nothing is dead on, but I think what is really authentic is the music as it relates to each character," McGraw says. "I think that a lot of times in these films you can have really great music, but the characters kind of fall short or the storyline falls short so you don't believe that these characters can support that music; or, vice-versa, you can have these beautiful characters and story and then the music hits and you think 'there's no way that this music is really good enough in the real world to sustain these characters.' I think in this particular case you have really great characters who you get emotionally invested in and you really want to see what happens to them; and then you have this great music that you can believe, in the sort of fantasy world of this movie, that this music could create these people who want to be stars or this person who is a star or it could propel this guy to be a star."

Gwyneth Paltrow in scene from COUNTRY STRONG
Gwyneth Paltrow in scene from COUNTRY STRONG

Texas-born Shana Feste wrote and directed Country Strong and says for the story to work the audience has to believe the characters really are in that music world.

"The most important thing when I was casting this movie was that I found actors who could sing," explains Feste. "That was most important. I just didn't want to revoice anyone. I thought it was so cheesy and if you're going to make a movie about country music and you want it to be authentic you have to use the actors' real voices. What we ended up doing was the mikes were always live and we ended up, in the editing room, incorporating a lot of their live performance into their pre-recordings …just so it sounded like they were really performing at these venues. "

Country Strong was filmed on location in and around Nashville, Tennessee  and many of the extras and background performers are real musicians, technicians and reporters who work in that capital city of American country music.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

Avery Sunshine is known for her irresistible combination of soul, jazz and gospel influences. She’s traveled the world entertaining audiences with her powerful voice, inspiring lyrics and infectious spirit. She joins host Shawna Renee on "The Soul Lounge" to perform and share the stories behind her new album, "The Sun Room."