×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Venice: Ethan Hawke Says There’s a ‘Lot of Myself’ in ‘First Reformed’

In Venice to present “First Reformed,” leading actor Ethan Hawke and director Paul Schrader said Thursday that the movie marked a kind of coming of age for both of them and reflected on their own religious upbringings.

Schrader said he had always been fascinated by the themes of religion, spirituality and  transcendence discussed by authors such as Robert Bresson but “was too excited by the depiction of violence and sexuality” in his earlier films to work with these authors. The turning point, he said, was a conversation with director Paweł Pawlikowski, whose “Ida” won the Oscar for best foreign-language film in 2015. “I told myself, it’s about time for you to write one of these movies,” Schrader said.

Hawke, whose performance as a grief-stricken ex-military chaplain from upstate New York has been applauded by critics at Venice, said at the film’s press conference that he had never been asked to play a priest before. But religion “was a very important dialogue in my head,” he said, having been “surrounded by it my whole life.”

“When I was born, my great-great-grandmother had a clear sense that I was going to be a priest and told everyone that I should be paying attention to the calling if it ever came. So I used to pray that the calling wouldn’t come. And thank God it didn’t,” Hawke recalled.

As for his role in “First Reformed,” Hawke said that “it wasn’t hard for me to get into this character….because I can put a lot of myself into it.”

Speaking of his upbringing, Hawke said his “family had a very strong mistrust of celebrity and fame and its ability to blind people’s nature of reality.”

In acting, said Hawke, “there is reenactment involved, and that’s something I love about acting. It has a shamanistic quality.”

Hawke also spoke of the timeliness of “First Reformed.” “I’ve been wondering to myself where do these religious communities stand with their moral leadership with regards to the environmental crisis we’re all facing, and why they’re so quiet about it,” said the actor.

Schrader talked about the darker aspects of Christianity.

“We as Protestants, we suffer from the same pathology as Catholics,” said Schrader, prompting chuckles in the room. “If you’re raised in the church, whether you’re Protestant or Catholic, you’re raised with the idea that through blood you can become clean. Well, that’s a dangerous idea when you think about it, but it is part of the program that you receive as a Christian.”

Amanda Seyfried, who starred opposite Hawke as a church member married to a radical environmentalist, said “First Reformed” also marked a milestone for her.

“One of first reactions I had [to the script] is that it scared me and floored me. Of course, I’m always trying to explore myself, but you don’t always ask yourself the hardest questions in fear of what they provoke.

“I feel so lucky to have been able to read a story like this,” Seyfried added. “It’s been living inside of Paul for so long, and I also liked to feel so connected to the feelings of confusion, the struggle and the hope – all of that combined.”

More Film

  • Orange Studio, OCS Join Forces on

    Orange Studio, OCS Join Forces on Flurry of High-Profile Series

    Following “The Name of the Rose”(pictured) and “Devils,” France’s Orange has unveiled four internationally-driven series projects as part of its commitment to step into premium original shows with its film/TV division Orange Studio and pay TV group OCS both of board. Currently in development, the social western “Cheyenne & Lola,” the dance-filled workplace drama “The [...]

  • 'This Isn’t Spinal Tap': Dishing the

    'This Isn’t Spinal Tap': Dishing the Dirt on Motley Crue's Surprisingly Dark Biopic

    The new, eagerly awaited Motley Crue biopic, based on Neil Strauss’ best-selling 2001 book, “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band,” premieres today on Netflix after a seemingly endless 13 years in development hell. Those anticipating “a fun ‘80s music movie,” as Crue bassist Nikki Sixx puts it, will inevitably be stunned [...]

  • Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong'o) and Adelaide

    Box Office: Jordan Peele's 'Us' Nabs $7.4 Million on Thursday Night

    Jordan Peele’s horror-thriller “Us” opened impressively with $7.4 million on Thursday night. The figure easily topped Thursday preview numbers for “The Nun” at $5.4 million and “A Quiet Place” at $4.3 million. Projections for “Us,” Peele’s much-anticipated follow-up to 2017’s “Get Out,” have been in the $38 million to $45 million range for the weekend as [...]

  • Beatriz Bodegas on Netflix Original: ‘Who

    ‘Who Would You Take to a Desert Island?’ Producer on New Spanish Netflix Original

    BARCELONA – “Who Would You Take to a Desert Island?” is the second directorial outing from Spain’s Jota Linares (“Animales sin collar”) a Netflix Original premiering on Friday, March 22 in competition at the Malaga Spanish Language Film Festival. Starring María Pedraza, Jaime Lorente, Pol Monen and Andrea Ros, the film is the movie adaptation [...]

  • Beijing Festival Unveils 'Mad Max,' 'Bourne'

    Beijing Festival Unveils 'Mad Max,' 'Bourne,' Kurosawa Screening Series

    The upcoming Beijing International Film Festival will give space to high-profile Hollywood franchise movies with screenings of all films in both the “Mad Max” and “Bourne Identity” series. Classic Hollywood fare will also feature prominently in a lineup that, as usual, features an eclectic grab-bag of titles. The local government-backed festival opens April 13 and [...]

  • J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church

    SXSW Film Review: 'J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius'

    Like 8mm films of 1960s “happenings” or videos of 1970s performance art, “J.R. ‘Bob’ Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius” chronicles a cultural footnote that perhaps should be filed under the heading You Had to Be There. The satirical-absurdist “religion” founded by some Texans actually caught fire among hipsters in the 1980s, influencing some [...]

  • 'Roll Red Roll' Review: Piercing Documentary

    Film Review: 'Roll Red Roll'

    “Roll Red Roll” is a piercingly relevant and disturbing documentary about an infamous high school rape case that took place in Steubenville, Ohio (pop. 18,600), on Aug. 11, 2012. Steubenville, the sort of Friday-night-lights small town that boasts signs that read “Kick off for Jesus,” is a place that’s good at keeping secrets. When the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content