Ethan Hawke has four Oscar nominations to his name, first as an actor in 2001's Training Day, for which he earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination. In 2005 and 2014, he was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay with Richard Linklater and Julie Delpy for the second and third entries in their Before Sunset trilogy. His fourth nomination was once again as a Best Supporting Actor, in 2014's Boyhood.
They are milestones in a career that has spanned nearly 40 years and seen Hawke live many creative lives, as an actor, a writer and a filmmaker. This year has seen him continue to flex that versatility on and off-screen, starring as a Viking king in Robert Eggers' The Northman and as a serial killer called The Grabber in Scott Derrickson's The Black Phone, as well as making his Marvel debut in the streaming series, Moon Knight. As a director, he has helmed the six-part docuseries The Last Movie Stars, about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
"When the pandemic first happened, it felt like, 'Am I ever going to get to act again?' I think I came out of it working harder than ever," Hawke says. "I guess I felt inspired to use my time, but it has been fun. It's been fun to get to do so many different things. I love all those projects — they all felt special to me."
Below, Hawke shares with A.frame the five films that have most influenced him and that he credits as instrumental to the career he's forged.
Directed by: Warren Beatty | Written by: Warren Beatty and Trevor Griffiths
One of the first films that really inspired me was Warren Beatty's Reds, with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. I guess I'm a romantic, and there was something so powerful about that love story. It came out in 1981 when you couldn't even talk about any positive elements of communism or ideology behind it, and it seemed like such a dangerous movie when it came out. That he was going to make a movie about John Reed and the inspiration behind that movement, and their love story, that was powerful to me. And the acting is so good in it!
Written and Directed by: Spike Lee
I think that Do The Right Thing is a masterpiece. I remember walking out of the movie theater and I just couldn't talk to anybody. I couldn't speak. It's really rare that you can make a political movie that is so personal. It doesn't have an agenda with you besides the truth. And it's so funny, and the use of color. It was Spike Lee finding his absolute original voice and just throttling you with the truth. They did the anniversary screening and I saw it the other day. And it was painful how it felt it would be just as original and just as timely now as it was then. It was a painful reality. And that's what great art can do.
Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg | Written by: Donn Pearce and Frank Pierson
I'd be a liar if I didn't include Cool Hand Luke. I saw it screened when I was about 21 and there's something so heartbreaking about the movie! You know, 'What we have here is a failure to communicate.' I could put Cool Hand Luke and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest as a great double feature about how society breaks us, those two movies with Newman and Nicholson. I'm now wanting to do double features, because what all I'm giving you is times I remember a movie hitting me in the heart really hard.
[Newman] has an uncanny ability to be present in front of the camera. I love watching him. He figured out how to use his good looks, and his intelligence, and his humanity, and channel it into a character. And his ability to be both insanely vulnerable, insecure, and confident in the same moment, that's what makes him vibrate as a performer so remarkably.
Directed by: Martin Scorsese | Written by: Paul Schrader
Another double feature I saw when I was really falling in love with movies was Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. I remember leaving the movie theater thinking that I really should quit, because everything that I ever wanted to do with my life had already been done. The two of them are masterpieces that just knocked me on my ass. The thing about great movies is they're not just entertainment, they become a part of your life. It becomes an experience seeing it. They do entertain you, but they leave you somewhere better than they found you. Your own personal insight into humanity expands with the experience presented to you.
Written and Directed by: Richard Linklater
When I saw Dazed and Confused, I felt like, whoever made this movie, I have to work with him. And I got to meet Richard Linklater and we've made nine movies since then. So, Days and Confused quite literally changed my life.