Ethan Green Hawke (born November 6, 1970) is an American actor, writer and director. He has been nominated for the Academy Awards both as an actor and a writer. He also received a Tony Award nomination for his theater work.
Hawke made his film debut in 1985 with the science-fiction feature Explorers, before making a breakthrough appearance in the 1989 drama Dead Poets Society. 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 received critical praise. 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 played a young police officer in Training Day, for which he received the Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award nominations in the Best Supporting Actor category. He also garnered two screenwriting Oscar nominations for co-writing the screenplays of Before Sunset and Before Midnight. His other films include the science-fiction drama Gattaca (1997), the contemporary adaptation of Hamlet (2000), the action thriller Assault on Precinct 13 (2005), the crime drama Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007), and the horror film Sinister (2012).
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 for Best Featured Actor. Aside from acting, Hawke has directed two feature films and three Off-Broadway plays. He also wrote the novels The Hottest State (1996) and Ash Wednesday (2002). Between 1998 to 2005 Hawke was married to actress Uma Thurman, with whom he has two children. Since 2008 he has been married to Ryan Hawke (née Shawhughes), and they have two daughters.
On November 6, 1970, 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 Austin 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 acting 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 an alien-obsessed schoolboy alongside River Phoenix. The film received favorable reviews but had 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 a shy student opposite Robin Williams's inspirational English teacher in Dead Poets Society. The film was critically well-received; the Variety reviewer noted "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 ... 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 survival drama Alive (1993), a film adaptation of Piers Paul Read's 1974 book.
1994-2000: Critical success:
Hawke's next role, 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 praise. 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 acclaim, 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."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", he played the role of a man who infiltrates a society of genetically perfect humans by assuming another man's identity. Although Gattaca was not a success at the box office it drew generally favorable reviews from critics; 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 Linklater in The Newton Boys, based on the true story of the Newton Gang. In 1999 Hawke starred in Snow Falling on Cedars based on David Guterson's novel of the same title. The film received ambivalent reviews and Entertainment Weekly wrote, "Hawke scrunches himself into such a dark knot that we have no idea who Ishmael is or why he acts as he does."
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 by 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".
2001-2006: 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 adds feisty and cunning flourishes to his role 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 debut with Chelsea Walls (2002), an independent drama about five struggling artists living in the famed Chelsea Hotel in New York City. 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. The tale of an AWOL soldier and his pregnant girlfriend, 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 CIA agent.
In 2004 Hawke returned to film, starring in two features, Taking Lives and Before Sunset. Upon release, Taking Lives received broadly negative reviews, but Hawke's performance was favored by critics, with the Star Tribune noting that he "plays a complex character persuasively".Before Sunset, the sequel to Before Sunrise (1995) co-written by Hawke, Linklater and Delpy, was much more successful. The Hartford Courant wrote that the three collaborators "keep Jesse and Celine iridescent and fresh, one of 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. The film 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 Fast Food Nation, directed by Richard Linklater based on Eric Schlosser's best-selling 2001 book. The same year Hawke directed his second feature, The Hottest State, based on his eponymous 1996 novel. The film was released in August 2007 to a tepid reception.
In 2007, Hawke starred alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, and Albert Finney in the crime drama Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. The final work of Sidney Lumet, the film received critical acclaim.USA Today called it "highly entertaining", describing Hawke and Hoffman's performances as excellent.Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praised Hawke's performance, noting that he "digs deep to create a haunting portrayal of loss". The following year 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.
In 2010, Hawke starred as a vampire researcher in the science fiction horror film Daybreakers. The feature received reasonable reviews, and earned $51 million worldwide. His next role was in Antoine Fuqua's Brooklyn's Finest as a corrupt narcotics officer. The film opened in March 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 2011 television adaptation of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, Hawke played the role of Starbuck, the first officer to William Hurt's Captain Ahab. He then starred opposite Kristin Scott Thomas in Paweł 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 supernatural horror thriller Sinister, grossing $87 million at the worldwide box office.
2013 was a busy year for Hawke, starring in three wildly different films. Before Midnight, the third entry to the Before series, reunited Hawke with Julie Delpy and director Richard Linklater. Like its predecessors, the film won much acclaim;Variety wrote that "one of the great movie romances of the modern era achieves its richest and fullest expression in Before Midnight," and called the scene in the hotel room "one for the actors' handbook." Recognized for its fine script, the film earned Hawke another Academy Award nomination for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay). Subsequently, Hawke starred in the horror-thriller The Purge about a future America where crime is legal for one night of the year. Despite mixed reviews, the film topped the weekend box office with a $34 million debut, the biggest opening of Hawke's career. He then made a foray into the action genre with Getaway, which turned out to be both a critical fiasco and box office flop.
Summer 2014 brought Linklater's Boyhood, a film shot over the course of 12 years. It follows the life of an American boy from age 6 to 18, with Hawke playing the protagonist's father. He will next be seen in the science fiction thriller Predestination as a time-traveling agent on his final assignment. Other upcoming projects include the modern-day adaptation of Shakespeare's play Cymbeline, the coming-of-age drama Ten Thousand Saints, Andrew Niccol's Good Kill, and Alejandro Amenábar's thriller film Regression.
In 2014, he directed the documentary film Seymour: An Introduction, a profile of classical musician Seymour Bernstein.
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 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 (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 might be "too contemporary for some tastes," but allowed "great fun to watch as he fumes and fulminates." In 2005 Hawke starred in the Off-Broadway revival of David Rabe's dark comedy Hurlyburly.New York Times critic 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.
From November 2006 to May 2007, Hawke starred as Mikhail Bakunin in Tom Stoppard's trilogy play The Coast of Utopia, an eight-hour long production at the Lincoln Center Theater in New York. 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 has four characters played by Paul Dano, Peter Dinklage, Josh Hamilton, and Zoe Kazan. 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 an eight-month tour in six countries.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 was better received, earning 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 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 premiere of a new play, Tommy Nohilly's Blood from a Stone, from December 2010 to February 2011. The play 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. The following year Hawke played the title role in Chekhov's Ivanov at the Classic Stage Company. In early 2013 he starred in and directed a new play Clive, inspired by Bertolt Brecht's Baal and written by Jonathan Marc Sherman. He then returned to Broadway to take the title role in Macbeth at the Lincoln Center Theater, but his performance failed to win over the critics, with the New York Post calling it "underwhelming" for showing untimely restraint in a flashy production.
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 (b. 1998) and son Levon (b. 2002). The couple separated in 2003, amid allegations of Hawke's infidelity, and filed for divorce the following year. The divorce was finalized in August 2005.
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 (b. 2008) and Indiana (b. 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 same-sex marriage in New York.
Hawke lives in Boerum Hill, a Brooklyn neighborhood in New York City, and owns a small island in Nova Scotia, Canada. 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.
Nominated -- Young Artist Award for Best Leading Young Actor in a Feature Film
Dead Poets Society
A Midnight Clear
Rich in Love
Nominated -- MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (Shared with Winona Ryder)
Nominated -- MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (Shared with Julie Delpy)
Search and Destroy
Vincent Anton Freeman / Jerome Morrow
Finnegan 'Finn' Bell
The Newton Boys
The Velocity of Gary
Joe the King
Snow Falling on Cedars
Nominated -- Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor,
Nominated -- Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role,
The Jimmy Show
CIA Agent James L. Lennox
Episode: "Double Agent"
James Costa / Martin Asher
Nominated -- Academy Award for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay),
Nominated -- Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay,
Nominated -- National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay,
Nominated -- Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Adapted Screenplay,
Nominated -- Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay,
(Shared with Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Kim Krizan),
Assault on Precinct 13
Sergeant Jake Roenick
Lord of War
Agent Jack Valentine
The Hottest State
Fast Food Nation
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cast,
Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast,
Satellite Award for Best Cast - Motion Picture,
Nominated -- Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble,
What Doesn't Kill You
Chelsea on the Rocks
New York, I Love You
Corso: The Last Beat
Narrator / Himself
Detective Salvatore "Sal" Procida
The Woman in the Fifth
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God
Broadcast Film Critics Association -- Louis XIII Genius Award,
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay,
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay,
Nominated -- Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay,
Nominated -- Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay,
Nominated -- Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay,
Nominated -- Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Adapted Screenplay,
Nominated -- Satellite Award for Best Adapted Screenplay,
Nominated -- Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay,
(Shared with Richard Linklater and Julie Delpy),
Pending -- Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Major Thomas Egan
Ten Thousand Saints
In a Valley of Violence
Hawke, Ethan (1996). The Hottest State: A Novel (1st ed.). Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-54083-4. ,
Hawke, Ethan (2002). Ash Wednesday: A Novel (1st ed.). Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 978-0-375-41326-1. ,
Hawke, Ethan (April 2009). "The Last Outlaw Poet". Rolling Stone (1076): 50-61, 78-79. ISSN 0035-791X.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license