Ethan Hawke

American actor and writer (b. 1970)

Ethan Green Hawke (born November 6, 1970) is an American actor, writer and film director. He has been nominated for Academy Awards as an actor and as a writer. He has also received a Tony Award nomination for his stage work.

A Caucasian male with dark brown hair and stubble, wearing a black suit with a white shirt and black tie.
"When I was younger, it was more important to me to come off well. Now, I just want to try to be good at what I do." (2005)




  • The thing that really breeds career longevity in this profession is doing good work. You can make $20 million a movie, but does that mean you'll still have a job when you're 60? It's a profession that eats people up and wants constant turnaround, so you have to dedicate yourself to learning and making the most of whatever gift you may have.
  • I've had different opportunities in my life, but I've tried to maintain the spirit of an amateur. Our culture roots everything in the barometer of success and how much money you make. But if you really just aspire to a life in the arts, it's really not a barometer at all.
  • A lot of American actors when they do Shakespeare put on a phoney English accent and it drives me crazy. You're always fighting against the idea that only the British know how to do Shakespeare.
  • The experience on that movie (Dead Poets Society) was, for lack of a better term, life-altering. Peter Weir has a unique talent for making movies that are intelligent but also mainstream. I've never been terribly successful at doing that.
  • I never thought that I would be labeled something like Generation X because of that movie (Reality Bites). I had no idea going into it, and it wasn't a label I could relate to.
  • One of the things that's great about Training Day is that you have two very distinct personalities, but it's true: it also has a great plot. If you can do both, it's incredibly exciting for the audience. Oftentimes, you have art films that have no narrative to speak of and instead offer characterization; then you have mainstream movies that are simple formulas, A-B-C-D. Training Day is a good combo.
  • People love actors. They love reading about them and thinking about their lives. But they also secretly hate them. They think their lives are frivolous and all they do is go to parties, and they don't know real problems... There's something at the root of our love-hate relationship with celebrity that I think has the makings, if you could do it in a really substantive way, of a great modern American novel.
  • I think what I meant, particularly as a young actor, is that you really struggle with the sense of being undeserving of the attention. And you're right. It happens all the time, there's some new young actor who people are gonna put on the cover of magazines and will talk about, and all you did is say 15 lines in a movie. You know, it's not like you started Greenpeace or something. They don't even put the guys who started Greenpeace on the cover of a magazine... So you understand the sense of fraudulence, and it's attached to yourself, you know? And that's what I was struggling with.
  • All that stuff with the tabloids is a kind of luxury tax I pay for all the good things I do in my life.


  • People look at your life and see things as a big deal that aren't a big deal to you. What I mean is, the chapter breaks are different for me. I'll read about my divorce, and what people think about it, and, well, it's so inaccurate, usually, but the fact is, I wouldn't want it to be accurate. Because it's my truth. When I was younger, it was more important to me to come off well. Now, I just want to try to be good at what I do.
  • ...But the truth is, I've never wanted to be a movie star - and I've been pretty clear about that.
  • Writing the book (The Hottest State) had to do with dropping out of college, and with being an actor. I didn't want my whole life to go by and not do anything but recite lines. I wanted to try making something else. It was definitely the scariest thing I ever did. And a huge learning experience about how not everybody's going to like you, or like what you do. And you have to ask yourself, is it worthwhile? Or am I just doing it to be liked? And it was just one of the best things I ever did. The second book (Ash Wednesday) was so much more fun because of that. The first was just a novelty act, like, 'The kid from Reality Bites wrote a book? Who does he think he is?' And I understand that.
  • What I love about Celine, what I felt really proud about that script, is that she's really a fully dimensional woman. It's very rare in movies that you don't see a male projection of a fantasy woman. I mean, Julie deserves 90% of the credit, 100% of the credit, but I feel proud of the collaboration that created that character. Her work in that movie is my favorite thing about it.
  • I was really nervous to read it because I really wanted to like it, you know, 'cause I've had this problem in my life before. I'll get offered something by people I respect and want to work with, but I can't pretend I like it... Hank's just a horrible guy and he's so sad, and he hates himself and he never does the right thing. But I had to admit that it was kind of the challenge I was looking for.
  • One of the most difficult aspects of being an actor is trying to find the right work. Work that speaks to an audience, that you enjoy doing and that is reflective of your artistic sensibility. To be a contemporary movie actor, you have to kill people - that's basically it. If you don't cock'n'load'n'fire a Smith&Wesson at some point in your film career, you're not going to have a film career. There just aren't enough movies that I like to keep me working in movies all the time. Well, let me rephrase that: there aren't enough available parts.
  • The older you get, the humbler you get. I know I don't have that much to offer, and I know I've now read Moby Dick and Anna Karenina, and if I had read those books before I wrote The Hottest State, I don't think I'd have published it. I had the arrogance of the uneducated, which sometimes you need.
  • It's its own form of cinema, it's its own entity. I think Chekhov would like Before Sunset because it's all about nuance. Any decent screen-writing school would throw that script out. There's no beginning, middle and end, it's completely fluid, just chasing the nuance of life, and kind of believing whatever God is lives in this kind of energy that flows between all of us. I kind of live for that, for that chance that you might get another opportunity to be a part of something like that.


  • In grade school they say you have to pick a profession and stick to it... and people stop looking at their lives as a work in progress. If you don't stay in touch with yourself, you kind of lose focus. If you're going to spend a life in the arts, you need to be infused with a sense of gratitude and a sense of wonder. It's a privilege to do this profession. But there is a payment you have to make for that privilege, which is to do your best all the time.
  • Seeing the play (A Lie of the Mind) clearly is part of why I wanted to direct it. I see hope at the end of this play. People talk about how dark the play was, but I feel like, if you really look at the darkness, you’re able to go through it, and you realize that you can handle dark moments in life and that everything will be all right.
  • We live in a funny time. If you don’t go corporate, you can’t compete. You’re relegated as irrelevant. People used to admire that. There used to be something badassed and poetic about it.
  • I don't understand the world. I don't understand why some people have to suffer so much and others don't. I don't understand the unfairness of all that - I can't wrap my brain around it. Seems like it should be the opposite, like global warming should make Haiti discover that they have the secret plant that makes them all rich, because they've suffered enough, those people.
  • When I was younger I really admired people like Warren Beatty who could do one movie every four years. I thought I could do all that: run a theatre company, write a book, make the occasional movie. But life doesn’t work like that, or at least it only does for one or two people every generation. Usually, there’s a little give and take, you know. It took me a long time to realise that I didn’t understand things as well as I thought I did.


  • If I say this people will think I'm kidding, but I learned so much about acting working with those wolves on White Fang. If I were to run Juilliard right now, I would make them take a class where they worked with animals. Animals don't know how to lie, so you have to just be with them. Whenever you act weird, or seem like you have an agenda, or are worried about what your hair looks like, they leave the set. They're not interested.
  • You have to express yourself. And to express yourself, you have to know yourself. It's actually super easy. Just have to follow your love.
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