×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ethan Hawke Wants to Find His ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Lord of the Rings’ Moment

It’s not rare at all for Ethan Hawke to have three or four projects on screens in a given year. The four-time Oscar-nominated star of films like “Training Day” and “Boyhood” works. Hard. He chalks it up to perhaps not being as comfortable in his own skin as other people are, but whatever the reason, his output is perennially considerable, and impressive.

This year the 47-year-old actor appears in Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” (May 18) and Jesse Peretz’s “Juliet, Naked” (Aug. 17). Meanwhile, Sundance Selects will release his third directorial effort, “Blaze,” later in the fall. But while Hawke has clearly covered a lot of ground in a 30-year career dating back to the formative experience of Peter Weir’s “Dead Poets Society,” there are still a few stones left unturned.

“One thing I haven’t been able to do that I really thought I would have been able to do is, before I die, I would really like to give a meaningful performance inside a really commercial film,” Hawke says.

Specifically he cites actor Alec Guinness, who famously afforded a sense of gravitas to George Lucas’ “Star Wars” with an Oscar-nominated performance that gave the film a whole other dimension.

“To be that good in what basically is just a space flick — I mean, the acting in general is not very good in that film,” Hawke says. “But he elevates it with his life, and he actually imbues Obi Wan Kenobi with a spiritual authority. Or you see Ian McKellen say, ‘Fly, you fools’ [in ‘The Lord of the Rings’]. Most American actors couldn’t pull that line off. Imagine looking at the page and seeing, ‘Fly, you fools.’ Tough line. But if you’ve done Lear four times, it’s not that tough. I see those men, or Judi Dench — there’s lots of women, Vanessa Redgrave — these people who’ve lived a life in pursuit of something beyond celebrity and beyond fame, but then they can in turn use it in ‘X-Men’ to great value.”

On that note he recalls seeing a gaggle of “Star Trek” and “X-Men” fans turn out to see McKellen and Patrick Stewart star in a London production of “Waiting for Godot” some years back, the venerated thespians bridging a cultural gap with aplomb. He looks to actors like Christopher Plummer, Donald Sutherland and Jeff Bridges — “these guys who have walked the road a little bit longer than I have” — as guideposts of a sort.

“When you do a movie like ‘Training Day’ and the world sees it and you do a good job, it’s not [necessarily] what I’m after with my whole life,” Hawke says. “Because if all you want to do is make commercial movies, it’s kind of like saying all I want to do is make hamburgers. But I would like to be in a balls-out comedy. And I’d like to do a really interesting performance inside a commercial movie.”

Luckily for Hawke, there is no shortage of opportunities for these kinds of roles in a modern movie climate dominated by shared universes and their ilk.

For more, including discussion of Hawke’s 2018 projects, listen to the latest episode of Variety and iHeartRadio’s Playback podcast.

POPULAR ON VARIETY:

More Film

  • Amanda

    ‘Amanda’ Takes Home Best Int’l Film at 15th Sanfic

    SANTIAGO, Chile    French director Mikhael Hers’ “Amanda” scooped up the Best Int’l Film award Saturday (Aug. 24) at the 15th Santiago Int’l Film Fest (Sanfic), which reported a 20% audience uptick in the past two years and continues to grow its reputation as the most vibrant and prominent film festival in Latin America’s Southern [...]

  • disney d23

    Cruella, Kit Harington and Black Panther's Return: Everything We Learned at D23 Day Two

    Not to be outdone by the avalanche of series orders and casting announcements bolstering the new streaming series Disney Plus, Walt Disney Studios showed off its film wares in a marathon presentation at D23 on Saturday. The Anaheim, Calif. expo brought star power, if perhaps fewer surprises than Friday’s presentation, as fans in princess and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

  • Breaking Bad Movie

    'Breaking Bad' Movie: Watch the First Teaser for 'El Camino'

    In case you hadn’t heard, Emmy-winning drama “Breaking Bad” is cooking up a movie sequel. On Saturday, after details of Netflix’s project quietly leaked online, the streaming giant issued the first teaser for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will be released on October 11. Starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the “Breaking Bad” [...]

  • Samara Weaving and Adam Brody Big

    'Ready or Not': That Time Samara Weaving Hit Andie MacDowell in the Face

    Samara Weaving didn’t mean to hurt Andie MacDowell, but she did just that while they were rehearsing for their new horror dark comedy “Ready or Not.” “I hit Andie MacDowell in the face by accident,” Weaving says on this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast. “It was horrible. It was [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • Tom Holland'Spider-Man: Homecoming' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Tom Holland Addresses Spider-Man’s Studio Divorce at D23: ‘I Love You 3000’

    British actor Tom Holland showed face on the main stage at D23 on Saturday, in the thick of an ugly studio battle over the rights to his iconic Marvel character Spider-Man. Headlines have been rolling in for days about the contentious battle for the cinematic future of the hero, after Sony Pictures became unwilling to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content