Hawke on Celebrity, The Next Generation, and Paying the Bills

New York, N.Y.—“Success becomes a kind of formaldehyde for some people." Ethan Hawke tells Zach Baron in GQ’s August issue. “They get stuck in it and die there.”

Hawke boasts a fluid career, with many ups and downs that have helped the 47-year-old actor remain relevant from one decade to the next. “The perception around me takes on a new energy,” he says, reflecting on how each his of characters throughout his career have bled into his real life persona. Dead Poets Society pegged the 19-year-old for prep-school parts, and he was literally called ‘Troy’ instead of Ethan on a date after Reality Bites. “And then Boyhood comes out, and all of a sudden you’re everybody’s fucking dad.”

One of Hawke’s upcoming films, Blaze, out next month, is about a forgotten country singer who chooses obscurity over fame. His decision to direct the film was a creative one, the rare chance to make a movie instead of money: “My best movies are not the ones that pay me: the Before trilogy, Boyhood, First Reformed, Dead Poets Society.” Hawke admits he has become a professional--something he never wanted to become, weaving roles into his resume that pay the bills: “I pay my alimony with my acting, I pay my kids’ health insurance with my acting. I pay everybody’s tuition with my acting.”

Nominated for an Oscar for Training Day, Hawke was once on the brink of what he says “could have been the beginning of something,” but a divorce caused his personal life to crumble. “When you’re depressed, it’s really easy to see everything that is fake about other people and life, and I just started seeing all that. How phony celebrity was, how phony everything is. You channel your inner Holden Caulfield, you know?”

Hawke credits his children and his work in helping him move beyond that period. He is motivated in particular by his eldest daughter Maya’s foray into acting: “She looks at it likes it’s this noble profession. Like, ‘imagine if I could be an actor,’” he says. Maya will star in the third season of Stranger Things, with Winona Ryder, who played Hawke’s romantic interest in 1994’s Reality Bites—four years before Maya was even born. “It definitely feels like an acid trip,” admits Hawke about the time loop. “She is a ferocious young person who’s gonna try to carve her own path.”

Read the full feature with photos by Fanny Latour-Lambert HERE.
The August issue of GQ is on stands now.


Alex Pisauro
Communications Associate | GLAMOUR
[email protected]