Ethan Hawke may not be the sultry star he used to be but he’s not gone and he’s not forgotten. The film actor who became a theatre director (and theatre actor) as well as a novelist may simply have been too busy doing other stuff to make a splash in Hollywood lately. But that may once again be about to change. With four new movies coming up, Total Recall, Sinister, Boyhood and Shoedog, as well as a new Before movie (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset) seemingly in the works we thought we’d take a moment to dig up Hawke’s best performances to date.

5. Training Day

This film did not come on the scene guns blazing but those who saw it remember it as one of the best dirty cop movies they’ve ever seen. Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke have great chemistry in a plot that makes any of your bad days seem like a walk in the park. Hawke is brilliant (he was nominated for an Oscar for his performance) as the nervous rookie and shows us just why he’s character cast as a neurotic mess time after time. Because he’s bloody good at it.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKTVQPOH8ZA&feature=related]

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4. Reality Bites

The dreamy Troy is as legendary to the 90s as Jordan Catalano from My So-Called Life. A poster boy for grunge’s lonely blue boys, Troy is everything a teenage girl could ever dream of: sarcastic, smart, talented, lost and drop dead gorgeous. You want to take him in your arms and make him whole, save him from himself. Hawke does every sigh perfectly, philosophizes with conviction, portrays jealousy well enough to make you scared and his quiet despair is so delicate it makes you want to cry. I’m in love with him in this movie (if you couldn’t tell)! In fact, Hawke does Hamlet better here than in Hamlet.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDYGo0UgIVM]

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3. Dead Poets Society

With remarkably little dialogue, Hawke’s Todd is tricky to portray. But his evident inner life is what cast Hawke as a rising star in the 90s and proves still today that he’s not just a pretty face. It wasn’t just Robin Williams acting that made this film a classic, it was equally much due to the sympathy Todd’s character awoke in the audience.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrBk780aOis]

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2. Before Sunset

Not many sequels made long after the original are better than their predecessors. Before Sunset is. Before Sunrise was an innocent love story in Vienna, beautiful in its simplicity, well written, well cast. Before Sunset is a heartbreaking slice of life, a tale of what ifs and why nots. It is evident that both Hawke and Julie Delpy bring a lot of themselves to the characters and that is a true gift. A movie and a performance to remember.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJZN7UoGnoc]

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1. Gattaca

Gattaca is one of those films you tend to forget but are always glad to remember. With excellent performances all around and a compelling script, one wonders how this film managed to slip under the radar (it went straight to VHS in Iceland, for example). Ethan Hawke is disturbing as the driven Vincent and he and Jude Law both manage to chill the already sterilized room considerably. Here it is most evident how skilled Hawke is at dancing on the thin line between good and evil, personifying the post-modern gray area. Lovely.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7OYCmynrRU]

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Which one is your favorite?

  • http://artemis.bloggar.is Thelma

    Ethan will never be forgotten. I´m in love with him in Reality bites too and always will be! p.s: The best greeting for answering machines and now voice mail for mobiles comes from Troy in this movie: ,,Hello, you’ve reached the winter of our discontent.”

  • NanSee

    I saw Before Sunset first and was captivated. I’d never seen a film that derived from two people talking their way around Paris. I fell in love with Jesse I fell in love with Celine … in fact the movie opened up my heart. Since then I’ve seen nearly every film Ethan’s ever been in or produced or directed (Julie 2, she has quite a background herself) … read both books and have been closely following his life (as one can do on the internet). I find him to be talented, interesting, true to himself, honest, loyal to his friends aqnd family and generally, filled with integrity. I loved him in Reality Bites, doing some heavy breathing with Gwyneth in Great Expectations, I loved the movie “On a Midnight Clear”, if you slow down his hula dance in Dad (I thought he and Jack Lemmon stole the film) you get to see how silly he is and that he actually has some rythm goin’ on…he was hysterical in Search and Destroy. The sound he emits after he drinks a taste of “her blood” in the car scene in Daybreakers, or his posture as he walks outside in the light for the first time, in beautiful white shirt with huge billowing arms, okay I could go on. My favorite is Sunset, my most favorite film of all time.

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