“I’m so proud of him,” gushed Winona Ryder about her longtime friend and colleague Ethan Hawke at a special screening of IFC Films’ “Born to Be Blue,” held at the Roxy Hotel in New York on Sunday night.
“He is unparalleled in his vulnerability and intimacy as an actor, and it’s his performance in this film that is honestly, truly mind-blowing,” Ryder told Variety.
The movie, released earlier this year, is a biopic that blurs the lines between fact and fiction about the iconic jazz musician Chet Baker. Directed by Robert Budreau, the drama takes a closer look at his love of the trumpet, complicated romances, and struggle with a heroin addiction.
“When you’re playing a person who really lived and breathed on this Earth, there’s a part of you that has to just love them,” Hawke said. “You’re not telling the truth in regards to the facts of their life, you’re making art of their life, which is a slightly different thing. But you have to do it with a tremendous amount of love — and with Chet, I found that really easy.”
Hawke stumbled upon the film more than 15 years after he was already working on a similar movie about the life of a younger Baker. “I felt like I was being offered a sequel to a movie that I never got to make. I’d prepped for it and thought a lot about it,” he said. “I felt like I wasn’t going to let this ship pass me by again.”
The “Stranger Things” actress says she’ll be presenting Hawke with a special tribute at the 2016 Gotham Independent Film Awards, which takes place Nov. 28 at Cipriani Wall Street.
“It’s incredibly special to me because he means a lot to me as a friend and an actor,” Ryder said. “These are things that are often said about actors when they’re praising actors, but I really, honestly, from the bottom of my heart mean it. I just love him in a very, very deep way and I’m very excited for him.”
Hawke said that there are many more musical projects in his future.
“I’m always fascinated by the lives of musicians,” he said. “I love music so much that I think I’ll always be drawn to those stories.”