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Jimmy Scott’s in the Pictures, He’s Beautiful to See

Jimmy Scott is an old jazz singer, but he plays an old blues singer in the movies. Or movie, anyway. The 75-year-old crooner has a small part in Chelsea Walls, a new film directed by handsome man Ethan Hawke. Though it was shot digitally with a modest budget, the movie still boasts names like Kris Kristofferson and Uma Thurman (Hawke’s ball and chain). The film tells five different stories set in one day at the New York’s Chelsea Hotel.

Fun fact: In an interview with the New York Times Magazine‘s Joseph Hooper, Hawke explained that on the first day of shooting he filmed Scott (pictured left)singing John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” just to set the mood. Hawke liked it so much he wanted to include it in the film somehow, but knew his budget wouldn’t afford him the rights to use the song. One of Hawke’s henchmen called representatives of Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and asked what could be done. Ono revealed that Lennon had been a big Jimmy Scott fan and granted them permission to use the song in the film. Maybe Yoko’s not such a meanie after all.

In March, Chelsea Walls was shown at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas and had previously been screened at both the Sundance and Cannes festivals. The film opens in select cities this month and makes its New York premiere Apr. 17. Visit for more information.

Lest you think that is Scott’s sole big-screen role, you should know that documentary filmmaker Matthew Buzzell recently premiered If You Only Knew, a film entirely about Scott. The premiere was held at the aforementioned South by Southwest fest and future screenings will be held at the Atlanta Film Festival which runs from May 31 to June 7. If that’s too long a wait, or if you simply can’t stand get to Atlanta for the festival, check out the movie’s nine-minute trailer at

And lest you think Scott has given up his music career for the movies, Milestone released his latest album, But Beautiful, to some acclaim in early March. The album features Scott singing standards like “It Had to Be You” and “Darn that Dream” with backing musicians including trumpeters Lew Soloff and Wynton Marsalis, drummer Lewis Nash and bassist George Mraz.

Originally Published