Ethan Hawke isn’t exactly the first actor that springs to mind when you’re thinking of a lead for a horror movie. The 41-year-old actor has never really starred in a scary movie per se (unless you count “Daybreakers”), and there’s a good reason for that.
Until starring in “Sinister,” in theaters on October 5, Hawke thought actually making a horror movie would be too frightening of an experience.
Hawke, who’s currently in Greece working on the sequel to “Before Sunset” with Richard Linklater, spoke to MTV News for our Fall Movie Preview and shared his old fear of making scary movies.
“I really believe that’s why for years I never wanted to make one of these movies,” Hawke said. “It’s because I thought it would be absolutely terrifying to make it, but the irony is, of course, it’s incredibly fun to make it. It’s kind of like telling a ghost story at midnight with a group of friends. You just laugh a lot, and it seems really silly. I just had a great time making it. I’m not one of those mad enthusiasts of the genre that you hear about. I like certain scary movies that are good. It was just silly and fun.”
As it turns out, making a horror movie actually isn’t that different than making any other film, as long as you’re working with the right people. “It’s all the same stuff, if you’re working with a filmmaker that’s talented, that knows about the architecture of film, knows how to tell a story,” Hawke said. “There’s a real discipline to making these movies. It’s like a comedy.”
Hawke said that like any other genre, horror has its formulas. It just takes knowing the “math.” In the case of “Sinister,” the man for the job was director Scott Derrickson. “It’s all about the timing and the math of it,” Hawke said. “What makes something spooky and what makes something cheesy and stupid is a razor’s edge. That was the fun of it for me. This guy, Scott Derrickson, had made an incredibly movie called ’The Exorcism of Emily Rose.’ I met him, and it was kind of obvious to me that he was a real filmmaker.”
Even if horror has a formula, it take an extra bit of originality to make something special. “The layers of it are what make it so interesting,” Hawke said. “On one level, it’s about a guy who puts his work ahead of his family. It’s a simple moral tale on that level. On another level, it’s about the dangers of watching horror films, and somewhere inside the film itself is something dangerous to you, which is really subversive and f—ed up and interesting.”
“Sinister” opens in theaters on October 5.