Not only was Stapleton almost immediately embraced by fans and fellow musicians alike, but the Academy of Country Music bestowed him with five nominations at the 51st ACM Awards. (He took home four trophies.)
This year, the country crooner is up for three 52nd ACM Awards, including Video Of The Year presented by Xfinity, which celebrates the singer's collaboration with director Tim Mattia on the heartbreaking video for "Fire Away."
Read on to find out more from Mattia about what went into making the impactful clip.
How did it feel to be nominated for Video Of The Year presented by Xfinity by the Academy of Country Music?
Tim Mattia: It's such an honor to be nominated for Video Of The Year. It's been an incredible year for this video, and this nomination is a perfect way to start 2017.
What's it like to direct (one of) the most depressing music videos of the year? And we mean that in the best of ways!
Tim: It is a heavy topic, for sure, but I think it shows a type of love in a raw and honest way that some people have to deal with. The video has hope and optimism to it, too.
I hope it speaks to people [who] this kind of thing happens [to] all the time, to people we often least the expect.
How did actor Ben Foster (The Punisher, Lone Survivor) get involved in this?
Tim: Ben was always the dream actor for us, from the very first time Chris and I spoke on the phone. I remember Chris saying, "We should get someone like Ben Foster."
Then, I think someone got hold of Ben and asked him to do it, and he got the call while doing something for the charity that eventually became involved, too— The Campaign to Change Direction—so it all seemed like fate!
How did you arrive at the decision to keep this story impressionistic, rather than straightforward?
Tim: The fractured narrative was always going to be scattered throughout and used to tell the story, as it was indicative of [actress] Margarita Levieva's character's mental state from the start.
It seems like you probably shot a lot of footage to construct the narrative of a relationship. If so, was there anything that was hard to cut?
Tim: There was a load of great stuff that didn’t make the cut because Ben and Margarita were so incredible and gave such magnetic performances. We obviously wanted to put everything they did together on-screen, but, in the end, we had to sacrifice some scenes to tell the story in the best way possible.
What would fans be surprised to learn about this video shoot?
Tim: They'd probably be surprised to know ["Fire Away"] was actually really fun to shoot.
There was lots of laughter and camaraderie when the camera wasn't rolling; but, again, it's a testament to the performances that you'd never guess that from watching the story unfold in the video.
Who will win Video Of The Year presented by Xfinity at the 52nd ACM Awards?
Learn more about the 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS.com.