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OTRC: Jeff Buckley biopic casts Reeve Carney from 'Spider-Man' musical

Jeff Buckley appears in a music video for his 1994 single, 'Hallelujah.' / Reeve Carney attends 13th Annual Broadway Barks Benefit on July 9, 2011 at Shubert Alley in New York City. (Sony BMG Music Entertainment / Nick Stepowyj / flickr.com/photos/nickstep)

Reeve Carney, who played the title role in the troubled Broadway musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark," has been cast as Jeff Buckley in a biopic about the rock musician.

Buckley drowned at age 30 in Memphis, Tennessee in 1997. The California native is perhaps best known for his cover of Leonard Cohen's 1984 ballad "Hallelujah."

Production on a movie about Buckley's life will begin in New York and Memphis in November, producers said in a statement, announcing the casting of Carney, 28-year-old New York singer and actor. The still-untitled film is set for release in 2013.

"We are over the moon that Reeve has agreed to take on this challenging role," Buckley's mother Mary Guibert, who is also an executive producer of the biopic, said in the statement. "I've seen him perform several times...he's been getting ready for this all his life. It certainly doesn't hurt that he looks so much like Jeff."

Carney plays the superhero and his alter ego, Peter Parker, in "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark," a $65 million Broadway musical that has been plagued by technical mishaps that have caused injuries to some of its actors. The show featured music by Bono and The Edge of the band U2. Carney's rock band, also named Carney, opened for the Irish rock group during the last stop of its recent U.S. tour.

"We are excited to have found in Reeve the perfect combination of musical prodigy, impish charm, innate intelligence and sensitivity to play Jeff," said the Buckley biopic's director, Jake Scott, who also helmed the 2010 Kristen Stewart film "Welcome to the Rileys."

Ryan Jaffe, the biopic's screenwriter, based his script on past media interviews with Buckley as well as the singer's journals, drawings and letters, producers said.

Buckley grew up in southern California. As a child, the singer was known as Scotty Moorhead - combination of his middle name and stepfather's last name.

In 1975, when Buckley was 8, he met his biological father, musician Tim Buckley, after his mother brought him to one of his concerts. Three months later, the man died of an alcohol and heroin overdose at age 28. Buckley later changed his last name to match his father's and in 1980, he started going by his first name, Jeff.

Buckley struggled as a musician in Los Angeles and New York for several years. He made his breakthrough stage performance at a tribute concert to his father at a church in 1991.

The days leading up to the event are set to be chronicled in a different biopic - "Greetings From Tim Buckley." "Gossip Girl" actor Penn Badgley is reportedly set to play the younger Buckley in that flick, which is due to be released in 2012.

Buckley singer released his first major recording, the EP "Live at Sin-?," in 1993. It contained the track "Mojo Pin," which was later also featured on Buckley's debut album, "Grace."

The 1994 record has sold more than 500,000 copies in the United States but more than 9 million copies worldwide. It also contains songs such as "Last Goodbye" and "Corpus Christi Carol" as well as his cover of Cohen's "Hallelujah."

In 1997, Buckley moved to Memphis, Tennessee to work on music with his band. During a day trip with a friend, the singer went swimming, fully clothed and wearing boots, in a dangerous spot of the Wolf River while singing a song by Led Zeppelin. He drowned. His death was ruled to be an accident.

Buckley's second album, "Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk" was released in 1998, a year after his death, and contained finished tracks as well as demo recordings. Other compilation albums were also released in the following years.

But Buckley's biggest commercial success in his native United States is his cover of "Hallelujah." The single has sold more than 1 million copies in the country and has been featured in films and on television shows.

The song has also been covered by artists such as Rufus Wainwright, K.D. Lang and Bon Jovi, which has often performed the track at concerts.

"This is a song that I wish .. I wrote," lead singer Jon Bon Jovi said about "Hallelujah" on his band's 2007 VH1 unplugged special.

"The first time I heard it, it was an artist who was taken from us all too soon," Bon Jovi said. "His name was Jeff Buckley. He was playing in a little teeny bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey. And I gotta admit, it was 1991-ish and I heard this song and I looked over at my friend and I said, 'That's the hit.' And he goes, 'There you go, genius, that was written by Leonard Cohen years ago.'"

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