‘Country Strong’: A Cheat Sheet

Everything you need to know, from how Gwyneth Paltrow prepared for the film to how Britney Spears inspired it.

Although it may seem as though we’ve been talking about Gwyneth Paltrow and her turn as a washed-up country singer in “Country Strong” forever, the film, which also stars Tim McGraw, Garrett Hedlund and Leighton Meester, has only been in a few select theaters until now. Luckily for those eager to see it, the film finally opened in wide release Friday (January 7). To celebrate the occasion and properly prepare moviegoers for some boot-stompin’, here’s everything you need to know about “Country Strong.”

Back in December 2009, it was announced that Paltrow would be shooting a “country film” called “Love Don’t Let Me Down,” produced by none other than former “Spider-Man” Tobey Maguire. At the beginning of 2010, production headed to Nashville, the home of country music, where the locals were treated to first listens of the country stylings of Hedlund, Meester and Paltrow, all of whom actually sing their own songs in the movie.

When MTV News caught up with Paltrow at the beginning of the summer, she was in the thick of promotion for “Iron Man 2,” but she revealed that her hesitation to sing country music didn’t compare to the nervousness she felt concerning the amount of skin she bared for the role.

Toward the end of the summer, news trickled out regarding the film’s title change from the wordy “Love Don’t Let Me Down” to “Country Strong,” which is also the title of one of the songs Paltrow’s character, Kelly Canter, sings in the film.

In September we got our eyes on the first full-length trailer for the film. Then in November Paltrow made headlines in Nashville once again when she bravely graced the stage at the Country Music Awards and performed “Country Strong” live .

From there began the big promotional push in anticipation of the film’s release. We chatted with the stars at the film’s press day and found out key details about Meester’s stage fright and how she had trained for the role . Paltrow revealed that if she ever puts out an album, it will be a little bit country and a little bit Cee Lo . We also learned from director Shana Feste that Paltrow’s character’s troubled, down-on-her-luck edge was inspired by Britney Spears’ very public meltdown .

On December 15 the stars lit up the red carpet at the Los Angeles premiere, and shortly thereafter MTV News unveiled an exclusive clip of “Gossip Girl” Meester belting out her big showstopper.

After that, all we could do was wait for January 7 for “Country Strong” to arrive in wide release.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Country Strong.”

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