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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Which one is your favorite?