I can’t help it, you guys. I love Ethan Hawke. My love for Ethan has grown through the years. Back when everyone loved him (the ‘90s), I thought he was a douchebag. But in the aughts and teens, I just can’t get enough of him. He’s grown into a very interesting man. So of course I was all over his new Elle interview. Ethan is promoting yet another dumb-looking action film, this one is called Getaway and it features… Selena Gomez. I don’t even care enough to embed the trailer (because it’s awful). But here’s the full Elle interview to make up for it:
ELLE: Do you remember the first girl who paid attention to you?
Ethan Hawke: Who doesn’t? In high school, I was just a guy who could never find his pen. A year later I did Dead Poets Society, and suddenly I was very interesting to girls. Sadly, I spent the bulk of 18 to 25—when I should have been partying my face off and gathering ye rosebuds while ye may—hopelessly insecure.
ELLE: Which felt better: having your first novel published or losing your virginity?
EH: Which felt better? Losing my virginity felt much better. That’s unquestionable.
ELLE: Okay. Which reviews were better?
EH: [Laughs] That’s well said. I remember the reviews for both, and they weren’t all good. I was very, very lucky. I lost my virginity to someone I cared for very much and who cared very much for me. The thing that’s so important for young people to know is that, if you use protection, sex is one of the few vices that you can really enjoy as a young person.
ELLE: You’ve played some incredibly romantic characters. Did women expect you to be that guy?
EH: I can’t tell you how many times in the ’90s I’d meet somebody, we’d be having a nice time, and they’d sigh and go, “This is exactly like Before Sunrise.” And I’d have to get up and leave.
ELLE: Before Midnight is about fighting for romance in your forties. Julie Delpy’s character, Celine, criticizes your character, saying, “You have sex the exact same way every time.” Did you write that line?
EH: What kind of idiot would I be to answer that question?
ELLE: I read it was autobiographical.
EH: [Laughs] The sincere answer to that question is, I’m the most dynamic lover this world has ever seen since Giacomo Casanova.
ELLE: Before Sunset is rare in that we root for the married guy to cheat on his wife.
EH: I was secretly extremely proud of that. [Laughs] It’s one of my great achievements. We live in an absolutely Victorian age. Everybody wants to believe you fall in love and monogamy is no longer an issue. The bottom line is our species is not monogamous. Go talk to a doctor.
ELLE: Before Midnight seems to argue that an affair is okay provided it’s only physical. And you come home. True?
EH: Part of what we love about people are their secrets—their inner life that you can’t touch. Yet once we’re in that close relationship, we want to own them in total. [Laughs] Like Jesse, I refuse to answer. It’s undignified to. But I’ll say this: If Bill Clinton had had a brain, he would’ve pleaded the Fifth. It’s better than lying. Lying is the problem.
ELLE: You were only 27 when you first got married. Did you feel ready?
EH: Success when you’re young is really overwhelming. The world felt out of control. And I wanted to stop it from spinning so fast. I thought marriage would decrease my variables or something. I was absolutely wrong. [Pause] There was this discovery that the male brain isn’t done until 28. I definitely think my frontal lobe was not finished. I had no business taking vows that would last more than two weeks. My personal opinion? The guy who’s got it right is Derek Jeter. He lives his life like, “Hey man, I play shortstop for the New York Yankees. And I’m not going to get married until I’m no longer a shortstop for the New York Yankees.” Which is incredibly smart.
ELLE: Did you share any of this advice with your latest costar, Selena Gomez?
EH: Yeah, but young people always think their problems are so unique. I know I felt that way. Around the time of Reality Bites, I met Debbie Reynolds at a dinner party. And she offered me all of this fantastic advice about, you know, her divorce from Eddie Fisher, and Liz Taylor, and how to separate acting from public life. I remember thinking, What does this lady know right now? The funny thing is, everything she said to me that night was true. If I could have heard her, I would have avoided so many mistakes.
ELLE: You lived at the Chelsea Hotel for a while. Were there some wild nights?
EH: I met Arthur Miller in the hallway. He was with this girl. It was this old guy standing at the elevator with this incredibly beautiful young woman that I was kind of making googly eyes with. Then I realized she was his girlfriend. I thought, Man, s–t. Life is interesting.
ELLE: Other than from Debbie Reynolds, ever receive any particularly valuable advice about women?
EH: My grandfather told me the greatest thing about aging is that, by the time you’re 90, you’re intimidated by no one and attracted to everyone. When you’re 30, you think a 50-year-old woman is—nah. But when you’re 70, a 50-year-old woman is smoking! When you’re 90, a 60-year-old woman is hot.
Even though I still would hit that in a heartbeat (what is wrong with me?!), I kind of hate him for making this argument: “We live in an absolutely Victorian age. Everybody wants to believe you fall in love and monogamy is no longer an issue. The bottom line is our species is not monogamous. Go talk to a doctor.” I hate when men use the “it’s biology that makes us cheat” excuse. Grow up. YOU talk to a doctor. I think if a man really feels that way – that it’s his biological destiny to be unfaithful and he can’t help himself – then yes, he has no business getting married. At all. Just take yourself out of the equation as far as committed relationships go if that’s how you really feel. But here’s the question: is Ethan basically saying that he screws around on his wife and then tells her “it’s biology”? Douchebag.
Photos courtesy of WENN.