Blaze Foley is a songwriting legend of the Texas outlaw music movement, but most people outside the Austin Music scene probably haven’t heard of him — until now. He’s the subject of a new film, "Blaze," directed and co-written by Ethan Hawke. Hawke directed and co-wrote with Sybil Rosen, made the festival circuit earlier this year, with a world premiere at Sundance, and the reviews have been universally effusive.

Writer, actor, director Ethan Hawke joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on Boston Public Radio to discuss his directorial debut, grappling with fame, and producing art for the sake of art.

MARGERY: This movie is beautiful… tell us about "Blaze."

HAWKE: Well, it is an essential question, right? We live in a culture that is constantly dictating to us that the accumulation of wealth is the point of our existence, and yet we watch it make everyone miserable, destroy the planet, and it’s so hard to see, and they do it with art, too. When I was a kid, you never knew what the No. 1 grossing movie was, you know? When I was a kid, they didn’t have a metric for whether you had good reviews or not. They’ve turned everything into a competition, and in a strange way I think when you hear Blaze singing that song you were just playing, it’s so simple, it’s so straightforward, there’s not one line, nobody’s reaching behind your back pocket trying to pull your wallet out, it’s a friend singing a song on a porch — and I wanted to make a movie like that.

JIM: Should I be embarrassed I had never heard of this guy? Because of you, before you answer that question, I not only watched your movie last night, but I’ve become so obsessed with Foley. First of all, I had never realized I had heard songs of his, covers by Willie Nelson...

HAWKE: ...John Prine, Lyle Lovette…

JIM: But then I spent half the night lying in bed listening to Foley — should I be embarrassed I had never heard of him?

HAWKE: That’s the point of making the movie — my character, at the beginning I play a radio talk show host and I had never heard of him either, I say I’ve never heard of Blaze Folly—

JIM: Folly, I’m sorry.

HAWKE: No, his name is Foley, I’m making the joke! My character doesn’t even know how to pronounce his name, you pronounced it right! You should not be embarrassed, it’s the reason to make the movie, it’s because all over the country, all over the world there are artists of the first order working incredibly hard, making paintings, dancing, doing rap songs, singing music, doing their thing, and they can’t find a place in the marketplace. Does that mean that their work is not valued? No, it means the marketplace is for the birds. And then you have to find your own grace and integrity within yourself, and believe in it, and believe that art has value, and in a lot of ways to me, Blaze is this big 6”5 Arkansas hero of that idea — the idea that there’s something larger going on that just the accumulation of wealth.

To hear the full interview, click on the audio player above. Ethan Hawke will be at the Coolidge Corner Theater to introduce "Blaze". For more information visit