Have you ever had a dream that you thought was impossible? The Identical is here to remind you that if God is in your dreams, nothing can stand against them.
The Identical tells the story of Ryan Wade, a young man with a heart for music and a father convinced that his son is destined for the ministry. With the support of his friends, he pursues his dream through whatever doors he finds open, even if that means singing someone else’s songs.
That someone is Drexel Hemsley, a wildly popular rock and roll artist who looks enough like Ryan to be his long-lost twin brother . . . which he is!
Ryan Wade is played by Blake Rayne, a Nashville musician originally from Columbus, Ohio, who is making his debut performance as an actor in this movie. We spoke with him recently about his leading role in the film.
Watch the trailer for The Identical:
SCH: How did you first get involved with The Identical?
BR: It’s a crazy story. I was with my band in Nashville in a rehearsal studio. We were rehearsing to go out on tour, and lo and behold, Yochanan Marcellino, the executive producer of The Identical, was at the studio at the same time. He was looking to rent out space to work on music from the movie.
Long story short, we talked over the course of a couple of weeks, and he finally came out and said, “Look, I don’t know if you can act, but if you can, I want to cast you as the lead in The Identical.” It kind of fell into my lap, but it was an incredible journey.
SCH: I notice your musical background includes experience as an Elvis impersonator.
BR: I used to build websites for a living, but I got a dare one day from my mother, who faxed me an entry form to a local Elvis Contest. We have a competitive banter between ourselves – fun games we always play. She wrote “I dare you to do this” on that entry form, so I called her bluff and decided to enter the contest. I’d never sung Elvis or karaoke before that, but I ended up winning the contest.
It was crazy; the next thing you know, I was swept off my feet into the world of Elvis’s music. I sang that music for a number of years, and it was a blessing because along the way, I learned what it was to become an entertainer and how to sing and put on a show.
That eventually led to me breaking out on my own and writing my own music. I put a band together, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
SCH: That sounds a lot like Ryan’s journey in the movie.
BR: There are so many parallels between Ryan Wade’s life and my own, it’s almost scary. That’s part of the reason Yochanan was interested in casting me. I drew on a lot of those personal experiences to play the role of Ryan.
SCH: Can you share some of those personal experiences with us?
BR: Absolutely! Another amazing parallel is that, while I didn’t grow up with a preacher for a father, I did grow up in a very strict and religious home. We were very poor, and my parents felt that I needed to play sports and get straight A’s in the hopes that I’d be able to afford to go to college and to make a better life for myself.
But I was the kid who wanted to be in choir and in the high school play. I wasn’t allowed to do any of that, so Ryan Wade and I have a very similar situation in which our parents want us to do something and we want to do something else, but we can’t. In the end, though, it turned out all right.
As I got older and got out of college, I was able to realize the dream I wanted to follow when I was a kid. So there are very similar lines you can draw between my life and the character of Ryan Wade in The Identical.
SCH: How have you enjoyed this first experience with acting?
BR: It’s one of those things where you don’t know what you’re getting into. I was out in California for months working with a really good acting instructor. I put myself in the best position I could before we started shooting, but at the end of the day, being on set is its own beast.
There were a lot of things I didn’t know, being a first-time actor, so it was chaotic at first. But I had the help and support of a cast of actors and actresses who were amazing: Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Seth Green, Joe Pantoliano, and Erin Cottrell. They were gracious and helpful through the whole process, and I give them so much credit. They didn’t have to be that way; they could have been like, “Ugh, who’s this guy?” But they were great, and I appreciated them so much.
SCH: What would you say has been the biggest blessing you’ve received from working on this movie, and what has been the biggest challenge?
BR: I’m very thankful I was involved in this project, not just from an acting standpoint but working with Yochanan and his son, Dustin Marcellino, the director. I asked if I could be involved in everything from pre-production to shooting to post-production and ramping up to the release that’s coming up next week on September 5.
I’ve been like a kid in a candy store, trying to soak up everything in the hopes that someday I’ll get another chance to be on set in another movie. It’s been an incredible experience; I’m so thankful that I’ve been allowed to go down that road and to learn about the business and about what it is to become an actor.
At the same time, one of the most challenging things has been the unknowns of the movie business. Of course, I’ve experienced it in the music business; there are a lot of similarities. You never know if people are going to connect with you or if you’re going to get opportunities to write more music, be in another movie, or do another stage performance.
It’s nerve-wracking, but I wash my hands of it and know if my head and heart are in the right place, the Lord will take care of it. I have to say every day, “I’m giving up today to You because You can take care of what happens.”
SCH: How else has your walk with the Lord affected your career path?
BR: It’s been integral, to say the least. One of the primary messages you can glean from The Identical is that when your heart is in the right place and you’re seeking the will of God, He’s going to give you that instinct, that feeling in your gut of which road to choose.
The moment I got my life straight, I surrendered it, saying, “I don’t care if I have to do something crazy like build websites or be an Elvis impersonator; I’m going to go through the doors you open for me.” Throughout my career, so many things have happened that are as unbelievable as me getting into this movie in the first place. I think God has been a huge part of what success has come my way, and I certainly don’t take any credit for it.
SCH: If people could take away only one message from this film, what would you want it to be?
BR: Touching back on what I mentioned earlier, if your heart is in the right place, you’ll be given that gut feeling and you won’t be able to deny it. The world might stand against you, and even your friends might stand against you and think you’re crazy for making the decisions you make.
But when you know it’s right, follow your dreams. As the tagline of the movie says, “If God is in your dreams, no one can stand against them.”
That’s an important message, not just for everyday life, but especially for the kids out there. I have a son who is of that age where he’s trying to find his path in life, and I tell him every day, “Make sure that you are walking the walk, and it will come to you. When it does, just follow it.”
Choosing a life path or a career is important, but we all deal with relationships, jobs, and everyday decisions, so it’s important to make sure you’re in the right place to receive the direction in which you’re supposed to go.
Want to learn more about the film? Check it out on the Christian Film Database
Excited for the year of Biblical movies? Don’t miss Dan Wooding’s article on The Song: A Music-Driven Love Story in the Year of Faith Films
Jonathan King writes speculative fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. Several of his short stories have been published in North Greenville University’s literary magazine, The Mountain Laurel, and one of them received a Certificate of Merit from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. In addition, his one act play “Cuckoo in the Nest” was written and performed for the John Hewitt International Summer School in Armagh, Northern Ireland. In his free time, Jonathan writes a movie blog called The Nerd King, in which he reviews trailers for upcoming movies and takes a deeper look at older films.