Hawke at the premiere of Before Midnight in Berlin, Germany, February 2013
|Born||Ethan Green Hawke
November 6, 1970
Austin, Texas, United States
|Occupation||Actor, director, screenwriter and novelist|
|Spouse(s)||Uma Thurman (1998–2004)
Ryan Shawhughes Hawke (2008–present)
Ethan Green Hawke (born November 6, 1970) is an American actor, writer and director. He made his feature film debut in 1985 with the science fiction movie Explorers, before making a supporting appearance in the 1989 drama Dead Poets Society, which is considered his breakthrough role. He then appeared in such films as White Fang (1991), A Midnight Clear (1992), and Alive (1993) before taking a role in the 1994 Generation X drama Reality Bites, for which he gained critical acclaim. In 1995, he starred in the romantic drama Before Sunrise, and later in its sequels Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013).
In 2001, Hawke was cast as a rookie police officer in Training Day, for which he received a Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category. Other films have included the science fiction feature Gattaca (1997), the title role in Michael Almereyda's Hamlet (2000), the action thriller Assault on Precinct 13 (2005), the crime drama Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007).
Hawke has appeared in many theater productions including The Seagull, Henry IV, Hurlyburly, The Cherry Orchard, The Winter's Tale and The Coast of Utopia, for which he earned a Tony Award nomination. He made his directorial debut with the 2002 independent feature Chelsea Walls. In November 2007 Hawke directed his first play, Jonathan Marc Sherman's Things We Want. Aside from acting, he has written two novels, The Hottest State (1996) and Ash Wednesday (2002). Between 1998 and 2004, Hawke was married to actress Uma Thurman.
Hawke was born in Austin, Texas, to Leslie (née Green), a charity worker, and James Hawke, an insurance actuary. His maternal grandfather, Howard Lemuel Green, served five terms in the Texas Legislature and was a minor-league baseball commissioner. Hawke's parents were students at the University of Texas at the time of his birth, and separated in 1974.
After the separation, Hawke was raised by his mother. The two relocated several times, before settling in New York, where Hawke attended the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights. Hawke's mother remarried when he was 10 and the family moved to West Windsor Township, New Jersey, where Hawke attended West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South. He later transferred to the Hun School of Princeton, a secondary boarding school, from which he graduated in 1988.
In high school, Hawke aspired to be a writer, but developed an interest in acting. He made his stage debut at age 13, in a school production of George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, and appearances in West Windsor-Plainsboro High School productions of Meet Me in St. Louis and You Can't Take It with You followed. At Hun School he took acting classes at the McCarter Theatre on the Princeton campus, and after high school graduation he studied acting at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, eventually dropping out after he was cast in Dead Poets Society (1989). He twice enrolled in New York University's English program, but dropped out both times to pursue acting roles.
1985–1993: Early work
Hawke obtained his mother's permission to attend his first casting call at age 14. He secured his first film role in 1985's Explorers, in which he played alongside River Phoenix as an alien-obsessed schoolboy who builds a spacecraft with his friends. The film received favorable reviews but made poor box office revenues, a failure which Hawke has admitted caused him to quit acting for a brief period after the film's release. Hawke later described the disappointment as difficult to bear at such a young age, adding "I would never recommend that a kid act." His next film appearance was not until 1989's comedy drama Dad, where he played Ted Danson's son and Jack Lemmon's grandson.
In 1989, Hawke made his breakthrough appearance, playing shy student Todd Anderson opposite Robin Williams's inspirational English teacher in Dead Poets Society. The film was critically well-received; the Variety reviewer wrote "Hawke ... gives a haunting performance." With revenue of $235 million worldwide, the film remains Hawke's most commercially successful picture to date. Hawke later described the opportunities he was offered as a result of the film's success as critical to his decision to continue acting: "I didn't want to be an actor and I went back to college. But then the [film's] success was so monumental that I was getting offers to be in such interesting movies and be in such interesting places, and it seemed silly to pursue anything else."
Hawke's next film, 1991's White Fang, brought his first leading role. The film, an adaptation of Jack London's novel of the same name, featured Hawke as Jack Conroy, a Yukon gold hunter who befriends a wolfdog. According to The Oregonian, "Hawke does a good job as young Jack, being both physically robust but still boyishly naive. He makes Jack's passion for White Fang real and keeps it from being ridiculous or overly sentimental." Hawke then appeared in A Midnight Clear (1992), a well-received war film by Keith Gordon, and 1993's Alive, an adaptation of Piers Paul Read's 1974 book, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors.
1994–2000: Critical success
Hawke's next part, in the Generation X drama Reality Bites (1994) as Troy, a slacker who mocks the ambitions of his love interest (played by Winona Ryder), received critical acclaim. Film critic Roger Ebert called Hawke's performance convincing and noteworthy: "Hawke captures all the right notes as the boorish Troy." The New York Times noted, "Mr. Hawke's subtle and strong performance makes it clear that Troy feels things too deeply to risk failure and admit he's feeling anything at all." Nonetheless, the film was a surprise box office disappointment.
The following year Hawke again received critical praise, this time for his performance in Richard Linklater's 1995 drama Before Sunrise. The film follows a young American (Hawke) and a young French woman (Julie Delpy), who meet on a train and disembark in Vienna, spending the night exploring the city and getting to know one another. The San Francisco Chronicle praised Hawke and Delpy's performances: "[they] interact so gently and simply that you feel certain that they helped write the dialogue. Each of them seems to have something personal at stake in their performances."
Apart from acting, Hawke directed the music video for the 1994 song "Stay (I Missed You)" by singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb. He also published his first novel in 1996, The Hottest State, about a love affair between a young actor and a singer. Hawke said of the novel, "Writing the book 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 it was just one of the best things I ever did." The book met with a mixed reception. Entertainment Weekly said that Hawke "opens himself to rough literary scrutiny in The Hottest State. If Hawke is serious ... he'd do well to work awhile in less exposed venues, perhaps focusing on shorter stories and submitting them to little magazines." The New York Times thought Hawke did "a fine job of showing what it's like to be young and full of confusion", concluding that The Hottest State was ultimately "a sweet love story".
In Andrew Niccol's science fiction film Gattaca (1997), "one of the more interesting scripts" Hawke said he had read in "a number of years", Hawke played the role of a man who infiltrates a society of genetically perfect humans by assuming another man's identity in order to realize his dream of space travel. Although Gattaca was not a success at the box office it drew generally favorable reviews from critics, and Hawke's performance was critically well-received. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reviewer wrote that "Hawke, building on the sympathetic-but-edgy presence that has served him well since his kid-actor days, is most impressive". 1998 saw Hawke appearing in Great Expectations, a contemporary film adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel, and collaborating for a second time with director Richard Linklater in The Newton Boys, based on the true story of the Newton Gang, a family of bank robbers from Uvalde, Texas.
In 1999 Hawke starred in Snow Falling on Cedars, in which he played a reporter named Ishmael Chambers, who, after being wounded in World War II, comes home to take over his family newspaper after his father's death. The film, based on David Guterson's novel of the same title, received ambivalent reviews and Entertainment Weekly concluded, "Hawke scrunches himself into such a dark knot that we have no idea who Ishmael is or why he acts as he does." He also appeared that year in Frank Whaley's directorial debut, Joe the King (1999).
Hawke's next film role was in Michael Almereyda's 2000 film Hamlet, in which he played the title character. The film transposed the famous William Shakespeare play to contemporary New York City, a technique Hawke felt made the play more "accessible and vital". Salon reviewer wrote: "Hawke certainly isn't the greatest Hamlet of living memory ... but his performance reinforces Hamlet's place as Shakespeare's greatest character. And in that sense, he more than holds his own in the long line of actors who've played the part." In 2001, Hawke appeared in two more Linklater movies: Waking Life and Tape, both critically acclaimed. In the animated Waking Life, he shared a single scene with former co-star Julie Delpy continuing conversations begun in Before Sunrise. The real-time drama Tape, based on a play from Stephen Belber, took place entirely in a single motel room with three characters played by Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard and Uma Thurman. Hawke regarded Tape as his "first adult performance", a performance noted by Roger Ebert for its "physical and verbal acting mastery".
2001–2004: Training Day
Hawke's next role, and one for which he received substantial critical acclaim, came in Training Day (2001). Hawke played rookie cop Jake Hoyt, alongside Denzel Washington, as one of a pair of narcotics detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department spending 24 hours in the gang neighborhoods of South Los Angeles. The film was a box office hit, taking $104 million worldwide, and garnered generally favorable reviews. Variety wrote that Hawke's part "shows signs of coming to new life as a screen actor after somnolent turns in the likes of Snow Falling on Cedars. Hawke adds feisty and cunning flourishes to his part that allow him to respectably hold his own under formidable circumstances." Paul Clinton of CNN reported that Hawke's performance was "totally believable as a doe-eyed rookie going toe-to-toe with a legend [Washington]". Hawke himself described Training Day as his "best experience in Hollywood". His performance earned him Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor.
Hawke pursued a number of projects away from acting throughout the early 2000s. He made his directorial feature debut with Chelsea Walls (2002), an independent drama about five struggling artists living in the famed Chelsea Hotel in New York City. Upon its release, the feature received mixed reviews; The Los Angeles Times wrote that Hawke's directorial debut "has brought Nicolette Burdette's play to the screen with fluid grace and a perfect blend of dreaminess and grit", while The Boston Globe stated that his direction is not apparent in Chelsea Walls. The film was critically and financially unsuccessful. A second novel, 2002's Ash Wednesday, was better received and made the New York Times Best Seller list for hardcover fiction. The tale of an AWOL soldier and his pregnant girlfriend, between whose perspectives the narrative alternates, the novel attracted critical praise: The Guardian called it "sharply and poignantly written ... makes for an intense one-sitting read". The New York Times noted that in the book Hawke displayed "a novelist's innate gifts ... a sharp eye, a fluid storytelling voice and the imagination to create complicated individuals", but was "weaker at narrative tricks that can be taught". In 2003 Hawke made a television appearance, guest starring in the second season of the television series Alias, where he portrayed a mysterious Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent.
In 2004 Hawke returned to film, starring in two features, Taking Lives and Before Sunset. In Taking Lives opposite Angelina Jolie, he played a man who could identify a serial killer who had been assuming the identity of his victims. Director D. J. Caruso's decision to cast Hawke was based on the "vulnerability" he displayed in Training Day and believed he could do the same with his character. Upon release, Taking Lives received broadly negative reviews. Despite the film's reception, Hawke's performance was favored by critics; the Star Tribune noted that Hawke "plays a complex character persuasively". Before Sunset, the Linklater-directed sequel to Before Sunrise which Hawke co-wrote with Linklater and Delpy, was more successful, with a contributor of The Hartford Courant reporting that the three collaborators keep Hawke and Delpy's characters "iridescent and fresh", concluding that they are the most delightful and moving of all romantic movie couples. Hawke called it one of his favorite movies, a "romance for realists". Before Sunset was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Hawke's first screenwriting Oscar nomination.
2005 saw Hawke star in the action thriller Assault on Precinct 13, a loose remake of John Carpenter's 1976 film of the same title, with an updated plot. Hawke played Sergeant Jake Roenick, a Detroit policeman working desk duty in a rundown police station. Assault on Precinct 13 received reasonable reviews; some critics praised the dark swift feel of the film, while others compared it unfavorably to John Carpenter's original. Hawke also appeared that year in the political crime thriller Lord of War, playing an Interpol agent chasing an arms dealer played by Nicolas Cage.
In 2006, Hawke was cast in a supporting role in the film Fast Food Nation, an adaptation by Linklater and Eric Schlosser of Schlosser's best-selling 2001 non-fiction book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. The same year Hawke directed his second feature, The Hottest State, based on his eponymous 1996 novel. The movie was screened at a special presentation at the 2006 Venice International Film Festival and was released in theaters to a tepid reception in 2007.
Hawke then appeared alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, and Albert Finney in Sidney Lumet's crime drama Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007). Hawke played an ex-husband in desperate need of child support who decides to rob his parent's jewelry store with his brother (Hoffman), with disastrous consequences. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praised Hawke's performance, noting that he "digs deep to create a haunting portrayal of loss". USA Today called the movie "highly entertaining", describing Hawke and Hoffman's performances as excellent.
In 2008, Hawke starred with Mark Ruffalo in the crime drama What Doesn't Kill You. Despite the favorable reception, the film was not given a proper theatrical release due to the bankruptcy of its distributor. 2009 saw Hawke appear in two features: New York, I Love You, a romance movie comprising 12 short films, and Staten Island, a crime drama co-starring Vincent D'Onofrio and Seymour Cassel. The following year he starred as a vampire researcher trying to save humanity from extinction in the horror-thriller Daybreakers (2010). The feature received reasonable reviews, and earned $51 million worldwide. His next role was in Brooklyn's Finest, released in March 2010, as a narcotics officer who uses his position to steal drug money and administer vigilante justice. The film opened to a mediocre reception, yet his performance was well-received, with the New York Daily News concluding, "Hawke – continuing an evolution toward stronger, more intense acting than anyone might've predicted from him 20 years ago – drives the movie."
In a television adaptation of the Herman Melville novel Moby-Dick, Hawke played the role of Starbuck, the first officer to William Hurt's Captain Ahab. The two-part miniseries aired on Encore in August 2011. He then starred opposite Kristin Scott Thomas in Pawel Pawlikowski's The Woman in the Fifth, a "lush puzzler" about an American novelist struggling to rebuild his life in Paris. The following year he played a true crime writer in Scott Derrickson's horror-thriller Sinister, released in October 2012.
In 2013, Hawke reunited with Richard Linklater and Julie Delpy for Before Midnight, the third entry to the Before series. The film was released in May to critical acclaim, with the New York Times calling it "a movie passionately committed to the ideal of imperfection that is itself very close to perfect." The following month, he appeared in the futuristic horror-thriller The Purge, which topped the weekend box office with a $36.4 million debut.
Hawke has described theater as his "first love", a place where he is "free to be more creative". Hawke made his Broadway debut in 1992, portraying the playwright Konstantin Treplev in Anton Chekhov's The Seagull at the Lyceum Theater in Manhattan. The following year Hawke was a co-founder and the artistic director of Malaparte, a Manhattan theater company, which survived until 2000. Outside of the New York stage, Hawke made an appearance in a 1995 production of Sam Shepard's Buried Child, directed by Gary Sinise at the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. In 1999, he starred as Kilroy in the Tennessee Williams play Camino Real at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts.
Hawke returned to Broadway in Jack O'Brien's 2003 production of Henry IV, playing Henry Percy, also called Harry Hotspur. New York magazine wrote: "Ethan Hawke's Hotspur ... is a compelling, ardent creation." Ben Brantley of the New York Times reported that Hawke's interpretation of Hotspur was "too contemporary for some tastes. It's hard to credit him as the embodiment of an older order of chivalry", but allowed "[He's] great fun to watch as he fumes and fulminates." In April 2005 Hawke starred in the Off-Broadway revival of David Rabe's dark comedy Hurlyburly. New York Times critic Ben Brantley praised Hawke's performance as the central character Eddie, reporting that "he captures with merciless precision the sense of a sharp mind turning flaccid". The performance earned Hawke a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor.
In November 2006, Hawke starred as Mikhail Bakunin in Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia, a nine-hour long production, at the Lincoln Center in New York. Reviewing the production the Los Angeles Times complimented Hawke's take on Bakunin, writing: "Ethan Hawke buzzes in and out as Bakunin, a strangely appealing enthusiast on his way to becoming a famous anarchist." The performance earned Hawke his first Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play. In November 2007 he directed Things We Want, a two-act play by Jonathan Marc Sherman, for the artist-driven Off-Broadway company The New Group. The play concerns four characters, three of whom are alcoholics. The production starred Paul Dano, Peter Dinklage, Josh Hamilton, and Zoe Kazan. The Variety reviewer wrote: "While Ethan Hawke uses the space confidently, he allows his talented cast to push mannered material further into self-consciousness." New York magazine praised Hawke's "understated direction", particularly his ability to "steer a gifted cast away from the histrionics".
The following year Hawke received the Michael Mendelson Award for Outstanding Commitment to the Theater. In his acceptance speech Hawke said "I don't know why they're honoring me. I think the real reason they are honoring me is to help raise money for the theater company. Whenever the economy gets hit hard, one of the first thing [sic] to go is people's giving, and last on that list of things people give to is the arts because they feel it's not essential. I guess I'm here to remind people that the arts are essential to our mental health as a country."
In 2009, Hawke appeared in two plays under British director Sam Mendes: as Trofimov in Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, and as Autolycus in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. The two productions, launched in New York as part of the Bridge Project, went on a transatlantic tour in six countries from January to August. The Cherry Orchard won a mixed review from the New York Daily News, which wrote "Ethan Hawke ... fits the image of the 'mangy' student Trofimov, but one wishes he didn't speak with a perennial frog in his throat." Hawke's performance in The Winter's Tale earned him a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play.
In January 2010, Hawke directed his second play, A Lie of the Mind, by Sam Shepard on the New York stage. It was the first major Off-Broadway revival of the play since its 1985 premiere. Hawke said that he was drawn to the play's take on "the nature of reality", and its "weird juxtaposition of humor and mysticism". In his review for the New York Times, Ben Brantley noted the production's "scary, splendid clarity", and praised Hawke for providing his cast "with a mood-stirring mise en scène" and, moreover, for eliciting a performance that "connoisseurs of precision acting will be savoring for years to come". Entertainment Weekly commented that although A Lie of the Mind "wobbles a bit in its late stages", Hawke's "hearty" revival managed to "resurrect the spellbinding uneasiness of the original". The production garnered five Lucille Lortel Award nominations including Outstanding Revival, and earned Hawke a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Director of a Play.
Hawke next starred in the Off-Broadway production of a new play, Tommy Nohilly's Blood from a Stone, from December 2010 to February 2011. The play, about the collapse of a blue-collar family, was not a critical success, but Hawke's portrayal of the central character Travis earned positive feedback; The New York Times said he was "remarkably good at communicating the buried sensitivity beneath Travis's veneer of wary resignation." A contributor from the New York Post noted it was Hawke's "best performance in years". Hawke won an Obie Award for his role in Blood from a Stone.
In October 2012, Hawke returned to the New York stage to play the title role in Chekhov's Ivanov at the Classic Stage Company. The production began previews on October 17, with a closing date on December 9. He then starred in and directed a new play Clive, inspired by Bertolt Brecht's Baal and written by Jonathan Marc Sherman.
On May 1, 1998, Hawke married actress Uma Thurman, whom he had met on the set of Gattaca in 1996. They have two children: daughter Maya, born in 1998, and son Levon, born in 2002. The couple separated in 2003, amid allegations of Hawke's infidelity, and filed for divorce the following year. Hawke married for a second time in June 2008, wedding Ryan Hawke (née Shawhughes), who had briefly worked as a nanny to his and Thurman's children before graduating from Columbia University. Dismissing speculation about their relationship, Hawke said, "... my [first] marriage disintegrated due to many pressures, none of which were remotely connected to Ryan." They have two daughters: Clementine Jane, born in 2008, and Indiana, born in 2011.
Hawke is a long-time supporter of the Doe Fund which helps homeless people obtain housing and employment. He has served as a co-chair of the New York Public Library's Young Lions Committee, one of New York's major philanthropic boards. In 2001 Hawke co-founded the Young Lions Fiction Award, an annual prize for achievements in fiction writing by authors under age 35. In November 2010, he was honored as a Library Lion by the New York Public Library. Hawke is also an activist for gay rights and in March 2011, he and his wife released a video supporting marriage equality in New York State. Same sex marriage was ultimately legalized in New York on June 24, 2011.
Hawke lives in Boerum Hill, a Brooklyn neighborhood in New York City, and owns a small island in Nova Scotia. Hawke is a great-grandnephew of Tennessee Williams on his father's side. He supports the United States Democratic Party, and supported Bill Bradley, John Kerry and Barack Obama for President of the United States in 2000, 2004 and 2008, respectively.
|1989||Dead Poets Society||Todd Anderson|
|1991||White Fang||Jack Conroy|
|1991||Mystery Date||Tom McHugh|
|1992||A Midnight Clear||Will Knott|
|1993||Rich in Love||Wayne Frobiness|
|1994||Reality Bites||Troy Dyer||Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (Shared nomination with Winona Ryder)|
|1994||White Fang 2: Myth of the White Wolf||Jack Conroy (uncredited)|
|1994||Quiz Show||Don Quixote Student (uncredited)|
|1995||Before Sunrise||Jesse Wallace||Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (Shared nomination with Julie Delpy)|
|1995||Search and Destroy||Roger|
|1997||Gattaca||Vincent Anton Freeman / Jerome Morrow|
|1998||Great Expectations||Finnegan 'Finn' Bell|
|1998||The Newton Boys||Jess Newton|
|1999||The Velocity of Gary||Nat|
|1999||Joe the King||Len Coles|
|1999||Snow Falling on Cedars||Ishmael Chambers|
|2001||Waking Life||Jesse Wallace|
|2001||Training Day||Jake Hoyt|
|2002||Chelsea Walls||Sam (voice) (uncredited)|
|2002||The Jimmy Show||Ray|
|2003||Alias||CIA Agent James L. Lennox||Episode: "Double Agent"|
|2004||Taking Lives||James Costa / Martin Asher|
|2004||Before Sunset||Jesse Wallace||
|2005||Assault on Precinct 13||Sergeant Jake Roenick|
|2005||Lord of War||Agent Jack Valentine|
|2006||One Last Thing...||Earl Jameison (uncredited)|
|2006||The Hottest State||Vince|
|2006||Fast Food Nation||Pete|
|2007||Before the Devil Knows You're Dead||Hank Hanson||Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast|
|2008||What Doesn't Kill You||Paulie McDougan|
|2008||Chelsea on the Rocks||Himself||Documentary|
|2009||New York, I Love You||Writer|
|2009||Staten Island||Sully Halverson|
|2009||Corso: The Last Beat||Narrator / Himself||Documentary|
|2010||Brooklyn's Finest||Detective Salvatore "Sal" Procida|
|2011||Moby Dick||Starbuck||TV miniseries|
|2011||The Woman in the Fifth||Tom Ricks|
|2012||Total Recall||Carl Hauser (uncredited)||Extended director's cut only|
|2013||Before Midnight||Jesse Wallace|
|2013||The Purge||James Sandin|
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