Garrett Hedlund is a man of few words. He’s laconic, laidback, almost aloof, but with a strange sense of humor that comes out at random moments. That’s why one of many reasons it was tough, at first, for him to act in “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” the latest from Ang Lee. The film concerns a young soldier (played by Joe Alwyn) sifting through traumatic memories of the Iraq War while his troop is honored at a football game. Hedlund plays the hepped-up sergeant. For one thing, it requires the actor to speak a lot and at great speed. For another, Lee shot the film in a radical, revolutionary new technology called “high-frame rate”: a new kind of digital cinematography that makes everything look hyper-real.
Hedlund — of “On the Road,” "Tron: Legacy" and the original “Friday Night Lights” movie — talks to us about learning to act while not looking like he’s acting, boot camp and staying off social media. He also gave us a cigarette while we talked, which was our first time smoking with a famous person. So that was nice.
It can be jarring, at least at first, to see a movie shot in high-frame rate. When you finally saw it, did it take a while for you to get used to it?
I did. My eyes adjusted throughout it. I also thought, at any point, if I took those glasses off, I would be like, ‘Whoa.’ I took them off during one scene, just to see what it looked like.
It looks almost the same, just a little blurry.
Did you find that the high-frame rate required you to change how you acted? If you’re really stylized with the high-frame rate, it can makes actors look fake.
Ang, when I first met with him, said, “If you to act, it’s going to look like you’re acting.” That was a little intimidating. Because I knew we had some big scenes. I was like, ‘Oh, I’m f—ed. The reason I was cast was because I’m an actor. Now he’s telling us not to act.’ But I guess it worked out. [Laughs]