Starting with 1995’s “Before Sunrise,” Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke have formed a deep creative, collaborative bond, turning that first picture into a trilogy, and working on a variety of pictures from the Oscar nominated, indie smash hit “Boyhood” to the down-and-dirty, underrated “Tape.” And like anyone who works together over the years, there are always projects that manage to slip away, and a particularly interesting one eluded the pair over a decade ago.
While Hawke is currently in theaters playing jazz legend Chet Baker in “Born To Be Blue” (our review), in a recent chat on “WTF with Marc Maron,” Hawke reveals that many years ago, he had worked with Linklater on a different biopic focusing on another era of the artist’s life.
“I was here in LA one time, and Brad Pitt
apparently dropped out of some Chet Baker project. This is about fifteen, sixteen years ago. And this producer calls me up and says, ‘Hey, would you like to be in a Chet Baker biopic.’ And I called up [Richard] Linklater and Linklater and I went down the rabbit hole about it,” the actor said. “His brain was so interesting thinking about Chet. Rick had this great, immediate hit on Chet Baker. What was interesting about him is this detachment, and detachment has a positive manifestation and a negative manifestation. Rick was like, ‘Yeah, let’s make a movie about detachment. Let’s make a movie about [being] cool. It’ll be like [Robert Frank
‘s Beat generation film] ‘Pull My Daisy
’ and we’ll set it in the ‘50s.’ And it was awesome, and we got all jacked up about this movie, and we got a script together, and we were trying to raise money, and it slowly fell apart and never happened, and we never got to make the movie.”
In fact, the duo put so much time and work into the script that by time it got around to shopping the project, Linklater felt that Hawke might already be too old for the role. “And it left me with this strange disappointment because I worked hard on it,” Hawke admits.
But indeed, what could’ve been, because their story had a pretty terrific concept. “The script we’d come up with was a day in the life of Chet Baker, the day before he tries heroin,” Hawke revealed. And that’s powerful stuff given that Baker’s life personally and creatively would be overcome and destroyed by addiction.
Check out the full conversation with Ethan Hawke below. “Born To Be Blue” is now playing in limited release.
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