‘Wild Rose’ Star Jessie Buckley Changed Her Mind About Country Music After Playing a Nashville Singer
A version of this story about Jessie Buckley first appeared in the “Dark Horses We Love” section of the Actors/Directors/Screenwriters issue of TheWrap’s Oscar magazine.
More people will see Jessie Buckley this awards season in “Judy,” where she plays Judy Garland’s long-suffering minder at a British nightclub. But while she’s great in the Renée Zellweger-led indie, the year’s unmissable Buckley performance comes in a tiny indie gem, “Wild Rose,” in which she plays a young mother from Glasgow who’s obsessed with country music and determined to make it in Nashville regardless of the toll it takes on those around her.
Buckley, who isn’t Scottish (she’s Irish) and didn’t love country music before she made the film (“I thought it was a bit hick,” she admitted), is nonetheless riveting, a pint-sized force of nature whose passion for four chords and the truth blinds her for a while to a lot of other important things in her life.
“It was just an incredibly beautiful journey that began from the moment it came into my lap,” she said of the film, which director Tom Harper mentioned to her in a pub one night while she was working on his BBC miniseries “War & Peace.”
And it turns out that even though she wasn’t a country fan or a Scot, Buckley’s background was just right for the part of Rose-Lynn Harlan. “I come from a very musical family, and they called me the singing monster for a few years,” she said. “I had always sung at home, probably to the annoyance of my sisters and brothers. But I hadn’t really done it for a while before this film — I’d kind of lost my nerve with it, so it’s been really nice to have it come back into my life.
That passion for music, she added, was ground zero for her performance. “I really started finding my character from the belly of country music, because she’s purely driven from her gut by that passion,” she said. “I was shooting something else in Belfast, and every weekend I flew over and rehearsed with the band in London. And I also worked on the accent, which is such a strong and bold and fierce and emotional accent.
“I like to start way in advance and let all those things sink in, so when I get to the shoot I can just play,” she said. “Rose-Lynn has her own thoughts then.”
And yes, the film did turn her into a country music fan. “Now I am completely head-over-heels in love with it,” Buckley admitted. “It’s really opened my eyes and my heart and my ears to something I didn’t know existed.”