As I mentioned before in the Uma Thurman post, Ethan Hawke has a new interview in Details Magazine. Now, I have a shameful crush on Ethan. It’s a relatively new development, as in… he did nothing for me during the period of time when everyone else thought he was ratty-hot, circa Reality Bites. I HATED Reality Bites. And I’ve always known that Ethan is heavy with the douche, but somehow, over the past few years, he’s just suddenly become really hot to me. So this new interview, while self-aggrandizing and eye-roll-inducing, is also kind of hot (to me). Basically, this is how I feel: “Ethan is so full of himself. I love him.”
DETAILS: You’ve acted in about two movies a year since 1985. Do you go nuts when you’re not working?
Ethan Hawke: You’re not even counting the theater! There aren’t many serious actors from my generation who’ve done as much theater as I have, and who have also published a couple of books, and who have also had four kids. I’ve always felt restless. Perennially, chronically unsatisfied. One of the reasons I do other things is so I can keep up the quality of what I do. If I didn’t write and act in plays, I would have been in, like, a hundred movies by now, and probably 97 of them would have sucked.
DETAILS: You appeared in your first feature, a sci-fi movie called Explorers, at 14, alongside River Phoenix. What was it like starting your career that young?
Ethan Hawke: I would actively encourage people not to do that. You’re thinking like a professional before you know yourself as a human being. The real job of an artist is bigger than being successful, and young people can’t see that yet. The road is littered with casualties. Look at River. He was one of the most talented actors of my generation, and then he’s dead on Sunset Boulevard.
DETAILS: You’ve said you envy Philip Seymour Hoffman’s career, the way he didn’t get precipitously famous.
Ethan Hawke: Phil and I came to New York around the same time, and he doesn’t let go of any scene. I think it comes from years of having smaller parts and wanting to maximize your screen time. He carried that into being a leading man. Whereas, when they offered me the lead in White Fang as a teen, I picked two or three scenes where I invested myself, but most of the time I was at craft services, trying to pick up girls or reading a book.
DETAILS: The first leading role you took after Reality Bites, the film that made you a Gen-X icon, was Before Sunrise, a small-budget indie. Did you turn down any bigger offers?
Ethan Hawke: Superhero movies. Batman. This was after Tim Burton’s, before the bad period. I just didn’t want to go to the Knicks game and have everybody go, “Wow, you were a great Batman!” That wasn’t my f–king goal in life. Now I wish I’d done it, because I could have used it to do other things.
DETAILS: Is that why you said yes to Taking Lives, the 2004 Angelina Jolie vehicle you’ve said you regret?
Ethan Hawke: You keep saying no, and they keep offering more money until it feels stupid not to do it. Look, I loved working with Angelina, but it’s a movie about nothing. I should pin it on me, really. Paul McCartney doesn’t write great songs because he’s trying to sell records, he does it because he loves them. Every time I try to sell out, I fall on my ass.
DETAILS: How did you handle the “Gen-X hunk” reputation? Did it make you uncomfortable?
Ethan Hawke: Now I think it’s kind of awesome, but back then I was suicidal. Maybe that’s too strong a word. I was writhing…
DETAILS: Really? You were a sex symbol at 24. Was this the decadent kind of despair, where you wake up wondering where the girl next to you came from?
Ethan Hawke: I wish! Back then, I thought fame was a disease. And I knew I wasn’t good enough yet to warrant it.
DETAILS: You and Uma Thurman divorced in 2004. Were there benefits to marrying another actor?
Ethan Hawke: The upside is that they relate to all your problems. The downside is both partners can put their professional ambition at the forefront. For two people who are used to getting what they want, to being idolized by the opposite sex, you can’t expect them to naturally figure out how to be in this enlightened state and create a home. Uma and I were, like, 26 when we met. We were both, like, little stars of our world. I think we did a damn fine job of trying to love each other and raise our two kids.
DETAILS: What kind of dad are you?
Ethan Hawke: Lots of divorced dads will tell you that one of the biggest enemies is guilty parenting: You only have them a couple days a week, and you want to make sure you have a good time. So you can risk being a pushover. I’ve never had any problems with my kids, though. The hard thing is how to co-parent.
DETAILS: You’ve been married to your wife Ryan for three years now. What does she do?
Ethan Hawke: She was working at the Doe Fund, a men’s shelter, helping people prepare for job interviews and things like that. Right now she has a newborn and a 3-year-old and she’s trying to figure out when she wants to go back to work. And she’s been helping me with my work, too, reading scripts.
DETAILS: Why did you choose to write both of your novels on a typewriter?
Ethan Hawke: I love things that are physical. I don’t like porn, I like naked girls. I like talking with people, I wouldn’t know how to date online. I love theater, the immediacy of it. Every time I see some kid on the subway watching The Godfather on his iPod, I think, “F–k it, I want to do a play.”
DETAILS: You’ve played a lot of pompous, self-absorbed jerks, including a tantrum-prone writer in the upcoming thriller The Woman in the Fifth. Do you need to find something you like in these guys to play them well?
Ethan Hawke: No. My character in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead? Talk about spineless! I wanted to kill him. A person with a problem becomes vastly more exciting to inhabit, because you don’t know what they’re going to do. Over the years, every now and then, I’d play a good guy, and I’d just be miserable.
The thing is that I know what Ethan is trying to do – he’s trying to emphasize how UNCOOL he is, he’s trying to name-drop people that he thinks are better than him (Philip Seymour Hoffman, River Phoenix, etc), and he’s trying to be honest about his own self-loathing and ego-driven urges. But you can tell he has a healthy ego. You know how I know? “Superhero movies. Batman. This was after Tim Burton’s, before the bad period. I just didn’t want to go to the Knicks game and have everybody go, ‘Wow, you were a great Batman!’ That wasn’t my f–king goal in life. Now I wish I’d done it, because I could have used it to do other things.” Who the hell says stuff like that? It’s one thing to mention a specific project that you were offered (that’s enough of a taboo in Hollywood, and seriously, BATMAN?!?), but to end it with the idea that you should have done it because then you would get to do more important work? Rat-boy, please. God, I love him.
Photos courtesy of Fame, WENN.