Ethan Hawke Brings Long Lost Singer Back to Life in “Blaze”

posted by Chris P. - 

The multi-talented Ethan Hawke (actor, director, writer, producer) visited Jim and Shelli to discuss his new film, “Blaze,” which is in theaters now. Hawke says that “Blaze” is born out of his deep love of the work of singer-songwriter Blaze Foley (b. Michael Fuller). The film intertwines multiple timelines, showing Foley at his most creative and tranquil as well his most troubled and self-destructive. Even though Hawke pulls no punches in showing the character’s deep flaws, he wanted to make an honest film so that he could “stand up” for an artist he truly believes in.

Ben Dickey, Ethan Hawke

Foley, active in the 1970s & ‘80s, was an enigmatic, rambling, free-spirited troubadour…a true original of the Outlaw Country movement. A brilliant songwriter unrecognized in his own time, he would go on to be cited as an inspiration by the likes of Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson & John Prine. Many would go on to cover Foley’s material or write in tribute of him.

Ethan discussed with Jim and Shelli the process of how he got a captivating, charismatic, nuanced and most of all- authentic- performance from first time actor Ben Dickey as “Blaze Foley.” Up until that point Dickey was exclusively known for his music career (most notably the Philly band Blood Feathers). In this film Dickey more than holds his own with seasoned talents like Alia Shawkat (‘Arrested Development’), Josh Hamilton (‘Manchester by the Sea’), Sam Rockwell (‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)’ & Kris Kristofferson.

Music is an unmistakable component of the film. While not a “musical” per say, Hawke describes it as a kind of “country western opera.” Ethan tells Jim and Shelli about his passion for country music and the bittersweet personal memories it stirs up in him.

Ethan also refutes the notion that a creative person, or anyone for that matter, should pigeonholed just because they’re known for a particular skill, citing the late great Dennis Hopper.

"Blaze" is currently playing in NYC at:

The Alamo Drafthouse

The IFC Center

Landmark 57

Below you can check out video of Ethan's visit as well as the entire conversation on our podcast:

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