Ethan Hawke By: Julie Delpy
Julie Delpy :: …But it seems like apathy is stronger than ever.
Ethan Hawke :: Well, we certainly don’t see students rising up to stop the war. It makes you appreciate stories like Muhammad Ali being willing to go to jail rather than fight in the war in Vietnam. What an amazing act of bravery that was. I mean, what if Kobe Bryant decided to go to jail to protest the Iraq war?
Interview Magazine October 2006 features Ethan Hawke – he may be affable, approachable, and determined to fly under the radar, but look out-he’s spreading his wings again and ready to soar. Full article after the jump!
Ethan Hawke By: Julie Delpy
The second half of 2006 is shaping up to be a busy time for Ethan Hawke, with a starring role in Richard Linklater’s Fast Food Nation (due out next month), a much-anticipated turn at Lincoln Center in Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia trilogy (beginning this month), and, just as this issue went to press, the unveiling during the Venice Film Festival of The Hottest State, which Hawke both starred in and directed, and which is based on his best-selling 1996 novel of the same name.Hawke’s Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004) co-star Julie Delpy caught up with the actor-cum-writer-cum-director late one recent evening.
JULIE DELPY :: Tell me about The Hottest State. How was it to direct something that you wrote a while ago?
ETHAN HAWKE :: It almost kept me from making the movie. But the truth is I started writing that book when I was 21 years old. It’s intensely personal, and I thought I could have done it better. And I had just gotten divorced, so I felt like making sense of a lot of things that were familiar would be good. And to be honest, it’s hard to get a movie made, and it was one that I could make-plus one that I owned the rights to. And then I met Mark Webber [who plays William] and Catalina [Sandino Moreno, who plays Sara]-I was just waiting for the right cast.
JD :: Do you feel like waiting gave you more distance from the material?
EH :: That’s the hope. I did feel really detached from it, and that only comes with time.
JD :: I think when you start directing, you basically have to fire the writer in you.
EH :: I did a couple of plays with Sam Shepard and I remember he used to say that he didn’t even like to be at rehearsal, because there was this phony idea that since he was the author of the play, he had some authority over the subject-when really you’re just the first person to call up the muse, and then you’ve got to let people interpret it.
JD :: How was the process of working with actors-especially one playing you?
EH :: Linklater told me that he initially didn’t want to make Before Sunrise or Before Sunset because he was worried it was going to be too personal, but by the time it was over, he felt like that movie was our film. My hope was to go at it with that same kind of spirit.
JD :: Is the film funny?
EH :: I hope it is. I show it to friends, and I laugh. It makes me think of those stories you hear about Tennessee Williams going to see his plays when he was old and drunk and he’d be in the back laughing. Actually, that’s not a very flattering story to tell, is it?
JD :: So they told me this issue has a theme the times they are a-chang in’.
EH :: It’s a line from one of Bob Dylan’s songs that became a Vietnam protest song: “Come senators, congressmen/Please heed the call/Don’t stand in the doorway/Don’t block up the hall/For he that gets hurt/Will be he who has stalled/There’s a battle outside/And it’s raging/ It’ll soon shake your windows/And rattle your walls/For the times they are a-changin’.” . . . No one’s writing songs like that now, are they? I don’t know what it takes to break through the apathy. This is certainly the most charged time that I’ve been conscious of. I remember thinking we missed 1968, we missed the civil rights movement. The period directly preceding our birth seemed like such an incredibly exciting time. But it’s here again.
JD :: Yeah, it could be here again, but it seems like apathy is stronger than ever.
EH :: Well, we certainly don’t see students rising up to stop the war. It makes you appreciate stories like Muhammad Ali being willing to go to jail rather than fight in the war in Vietnam. What an amazing act of bravery that was. I mean, what if Kobe Bryant decided to go to jail to protest the Iraq war?
JD :: Yeah, but most of the major figures that could serve as examples to the world have contracts with big companies that give them millions of dollars to represent a product, and they would probably lose that if they took a stand. I think that’s the big problem.
EH :: You’re right, and it puts the burden squarely on the artistic community. There’s a potential for real dialogue right now. It’s interesting, because this fall I’m doing this new Tom Stoppard play here in New York about the Russian Revolution. It’s called The Coast of Utopia, and it’s really incredible. It’s three plays that we’re going to present in succession, and I’m looking at all these fascinating characters who laid the groundwork for the 1917 revolution in Russia, and how hard it was for them to break through the apathy of their time. It begs the question of where our leaders are today. We’re in desperate need of a Martin Luther King, a Mahatma Gandhi, a Nelson Mandela; the Middle East is in desperate need of somebody to rise up and lead. I always think about how nearly every. major city in this country has a Martin Luther King Boulevard, King’s picture is up in every classroom, we take a day off every year to celebrate him, and everyone universally admires him-but we all know what he would say about the Iraq war. We turn a blind eye to the things we know he would tell us.
Julie Delpy recently wrapped work on her upcoming film, Two Days-Deux Jours, which she wrote and directed.