No, actually, I’m not referring to James Franco although I don’t blame you for assuming that the pretension belongs to him since, well, obviously. And there is actually a line in this article that reads: (Ethan Hawke is) James Franco minus the meta-smirk.
Here’s Hawke on the cover of the Winter issue of NUVO Magazine. He is promoting his new film The Woman In The Fifth. The writer of the profile, Joshua David Stein, interviewed him in New York where they walk around, eat, talk...
If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to read the full piece because you can’t really appreciate this kind of interview through excerpts; inevitably the flow of the conversation is lost, and you miss out on the talent, not of Ethan Hawke, but of the journalist, how smart and observant he is, subtly though, which adds to the deft of the piece... because while remaining neutral, he also manages to let you know what he thinks of his subject. And, refreshingly - since these endeavours are always so asskissy - he does actually think like us, only he’s clever enough to not get caught for it.
Having said that, Ethan certainly does most of the work in painting his own portrait.
Here’s a passage that’s a great example:
As it happens, Hawke is tired... A few weeks prior, Hawke’s wife, Ryan, gave birth to their second daughter, Indiana. “After Indiana Jones?” I ask. “No,” he replies, “After George Sand’s novel Indiana. Stoppard told me, ‘Name her Indiana, the first great female protagonist.’ ” Stoppard, of course, is Tom Stoppard, with whom Hawke worked on the Coast of Utopia trilogy of plays, and George Sand is the 19th-century French novelist, and all of this would be unbearably pretentious if Hawke didn’t end the anecdote with a little chuckle to show that he knew it was, too.
Hawke explains later on that, “To a fault, I’m sincere,” he says, before noting, ruefully, “This is a
time period marked by a sense of irony.”
I really love it when they’re given the opportunity to talk about themselves. It’s unfiltered narcissism. It’s delightful. Especially when they, as Ethan does, go so far as to invoke... the Bard!
“Dead Poets Society was the greatest gift that has ever happened to me,” admits Hawke, and after a pause, “[It] sent my life completely off course and I’ve been trying to recover since. It’s Shakespearean.”
He also admits, “The fundamental experience of my childhood was very lonely. Fame immediately places a glass wall between you and your peers.” Growing up, Hawke felt the isolation acutely. “It makes people—people who love you, people in your family—go far away. The best of people don’t want you to think they want anything from you, but who doesn’t want something from you? Nobody’s authentic.”
So here we are, an actor, a novelist, “The ARTIST”, and, you know, just a lowly magazine freelancer, walking around New York, talking about the Shakespearean-ness of all of it...and suddenly, but OF COURSE, we have to namecheck Allen Ginsberg. I’ve included the excerpt, intact, below so that you can see Hawke’s Try juxtaposed with the journalist’s restraint. And isn’t that so often the case with the Ethan Hawkes and the James Francos of the world? They never know when they’re not the only “artist” in the room.
From the way Hawke talks about the Theatre, big T, and the Arts, big A, it’s clear he deeply believes in their sanctity. “Brando, on closing night of Streetcar—now that was immortal,” he says, with no self-aware chuckle. “Fleeting but immortal.” Later, he says, apropos of little, “I was reading Allen Ginsberg’s ‘America’—it is such a phenomenal poem!” He shakes his head in wonder. Hawke’s sincerity can irk. It seems somehow arrogant, or at least presumptuous. The youthful innocence in Dead Poets Society, so touching in a boy, has soured in a 41-yearold to smugness. Hawke is generally seen as insufferable, sincere to a fault. But might these feelings have more to do with our reaction when confronted with vulnerability and its brash request for empathy? Come from behind your bulwark, it asks, a babe in no man’s land. Might we not feel somehow ashamed by his continued exposure and so attribute arrogance to his openness? This instinctual unease has dogged Hawke since the days the fathers and teachers of Dead Poets Society’s Welton Academy foamed with rage when confronted by the spectre, so pure at heart, of “a bunch of guys reading poetry.” Walking a storey above the street, another mournful Ginsberg line, from his elegy “Howl”, springs to mind, of “angelheaded hipsters … who faded out in vast sordid movies,were shifted in dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan.”
But I’m too self-conscious to quote it, and, besides, we’ve reached the southern terminus of the park. A glass wall signals the end of the line and beyond that, a drop. Hawke leans over, glances left at the city and right to the river. Then he says, “Let’s turn around.”
Find the article if you can. Three pages that amount to more than just a silly celebrity magazine read. Click here to see more from NUVO. He looks great in those pictures.
Also attached - Ethan and his wife Ryan in New York leaving an event earlier this week.