Penn Badgley Sings in Serious Role for Greetings from Tim Buckley

09/10/2012 at 06:00 PM EDT

Toronto Film Fest: Penn Badgley in Greetings from Tim Buckley
Penn Badgley in Greetings from Tim Buckley
Smuggler Films
For the past few years, he's played brainy Dan Humphrey on the CW series Gossip Girl, but now, Penn Badgley is ready to take on more serious roles – and be a part-time musician.

In his new film, Greetings from Tim Buckley, Badgley, 25, plays (and sings as) late singer Jeff Buckley.

"For the first time I can say that I'm incredibly excited to be an actor and have done something creative that I'm proud of," Badgley tells PEOPLE from the Toronto International Film Festival. "I really want to focus on is the fact that this is a movie where I'm acting."

But there is no denying his singing chops – and musical background.

"Up until this film, ironically, music was always more important to me," he says. "The reason it's ironic is because I thought, finally I can do music, but then it was like: 'Wait a second, finally I can act. It was a really beautiful experience for that reason.' "

And now his hobby is also evolving into a side job. "I'm playing with a lot of friends right now for the first time," he says. "And I'm going to be playing a lot of unannounced shows and opening for friends who play."

We can see the ladies lining up for the front row now!

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