He is like most guys in that he remembers his first time. Ask character actor Ethan Hawke to recall his first review and he doesn’t skip a beat.
A former child actor, Hawke remembers, “My first play was ‘The Seagull’ with Tyne Daly and Jon Voight. I still remember the review: “Ethan Hawke is more concerned with his pimples than his prose.”
Then again, you can’t always trust the critics. Hawke, 51, has a career spanning decades.
And then there’s his Audible premiere on May 19 of “Fishpriest,” an eight-episode crime podcast set in 1993 where Hawke gets nasty in the Bronx. He plays bounty hunter/former cop Tommy “Fishpriest” Barth, nicknamed after his weapon of choice, a club that’s meant to kill fish, but also does the trick with people who cross him. This includes the Jamaican Shower Posse, a crime syndicate that destroyed his marriage, drove him into addiction and forced him to turn in his badge.
Tired? “I feel like I’m just getting started,” says the native of Austin, Texas, who began his career as a teenage actor in movies like “Dead Poet’s Society” and “White Fang.” He has starred in a slew of classics including “Reality Bites,” “Before Sunrise” and “Boyhood.”
He is a father of four including actress daughter Maya Hawke.
Review-Journal: What is your idea of an ideal Sunday?
Ethan Hawke: Anything with my kids. A Yankees game. Listening to the Beatles. Watching an old movie or anything “Star Wars.”
How did you approach your role of Arthur Harrow on the hit series “Moon Knight?”
I approached him like it was a riddle. The history of movies is paved with storytellers using mental illness as a building block for the villain. With “Moon Knight,” we have a mentally ill hero and that’s fascinating because we’ve reinvented the whole process. That was an interesting riddle for me to figure out because now as the antagonist, I can’t be crazy because the hero is crazy. So, I have to find a sane lunatic or a sane malevolent force. And that was an interesting riddle for me to figure out.
So, you’re not the average bad guy.
Our riddle was somebody who was trying to save the world. In his mind, he’s Saint Harrow, you know. He thinks he’s gonna be part of the great solution.
You have such a diverse career. Do you ever look back and think, “I’ve really mixed it up?”
That was the idea from the start. There are actors who start young like myself. They get to 40 and they are a little bored with acting. Not true with me. I’m constantly keeping it fresh.
Switching gears, what do you remember of your teen actor days?
What I remember the most is hating the idea of being some teen hunk. I started at such a young age with the movie “Dead Poet’s Society.” At least, I didn’t get swept up in the stardom part. I couldn’t imagine waking up going, “Who loves me today? Who? I want names! … I never thought about that sex-symbol stuff. I just wanted to act.
You remembered one bad review. Any others?
“The other one was, “The most interesting conversation to have after watching ‘The Seagull’ is, “Who was worse: Ethan Hawke, Tyne Daly or Jon Voight” because they were all so bad.”
You went more of an indie actor route than the action film of the week.
I’ve tried to be careful over the years. There are a lot of people who had a big hit movie when they were 18. They weren’t acting at 30. So, you have to be choosy. You have to do things you believe in. I’m quite comfortable in the self-esteem department. I don’t need to see my name over the title of some $100-million movie.
It’s a very weird experience to be 18 and in a movie nominated for Oscars. There you are, being flown all over the world to do press. I couldn’t help but think, “Ethan, you’re a made man.” I thought, “So, next year you’ll be nominated. And next year.” It doesn’t work that way.
What is the toughest role?
I think being a parent is so incredibly humbling. The biggest thing about it is that it’s a job that doesn’t stop, which is a great thing. Your kids always need you. I’ve realized over the years that being a Dad is the most average, common thing you can do — and the most exciting. It gives your life balance. Meaning your whole life isn’t just about yourself.