Ethan Hawke on Stage Fright, Denzel Washington: "Don't F— With Him, Man" (Q&A)

Ethan Hawke on 'Hollywood Masters'

The 'Boyhood' star discussed wanting to make love to "blue people" and why he was having "a lot of issues at 40."

Boyhood star Ethan Hawke acknowledges that he has had to overcome a years-long bout with stage fright that began when he was 40 years old. "I was having a lot of issues at 40," the 44-year-old actor told an audience of students at Loyola Marymount University's School of Film & TV on Feb. 4. "I've been acting professionally since I was 12. I had my first like real bouts of stage fright that I just didn't understand, and I couldn't make sense of." He explained: "You start to realize that it's important. There's this feeling you have when you're young that, 'Oh, everything's ahead of you.' You know it's all coming. Then you kind of hit this wall where you realize, 'All right, there are a limited amount of opportunities.' And it really does matter what we do."

Hawke, a guest in the ongoing Hollywood Masters interview series and a four-time Oscar nominee, spoke about his new documentary, Seymour: An Introduction, and said it was entirely possible there would be another installment in the Before Sunrise trilogy: "You know, we made a deal that five years after it came out, the third one [Before Midnight], we'll meet and we'll see. If we keep seeing the characters in the same trajectory, and we all want to write the same movie, we'll keep going."

He also told The Hollywood Reporter's Stephen Galloway about working with Denzel Washington, who played a crooked cop in their 2001 movie Training Day. "The NAACP came to the set and said, 'What are you doing?,' " Hawke recalled. "And, you know, I never had a political organization talk to me about what roles I pick. And Denzel, I remember him saying, 'What, Al Pacino can play a bad guy? Gene Hackman can play a bad guy? I can't play a bad guy? I'm an artist. That's how I lead, not by being some dubious role model, by only playing squeaky-clean people. I'll be a role model by being great at my job.' "

Asked whether Washington was easy to work with, Hawke replied: "Denzel, don't f— with him, man — you know, come to the set with some sloppy work. I loved it. I love somebody [who] sets the bar high, for crying out loud. I mean, everybody just is so complacent. It's like they're waiting for Martin Scorsese to show up to give them permission to do great work. Why not do it now?"

Some of his own best work has been done in collaboration with director Richard Linklater. "Rick always viewed the movie as a memory," Hawke said. "It was already a memory in his mind. What do you remember about your childhood? It¹s never the big
moments, never the first beer or losing your virginity, all that stuff. He had this line: 'When that stuff happens, you feel like almost an extra in a movie of your life.' The real stuff is just hanging out with your friends. I remember saying to Rick, 'You know [one childhood memory] I most remember is the first moment I realized that there were no elves.' He was like, 'Yeah, we got to get that in the movie. Right, I love that moment.' And the whole thing just evolved. It was a long decade-plus dialogue about childhood and growing up, and it was so fun. I¹m so sad it¹s over."

The third season of The Hollywood Masters will continue with guests Sean Penn, Clint Eastwood, Kenneth Branagh, Ken Burns, Gale Anne Hurd and Quincy Jones. (Click here to watch previous conversations.)

GALLOWAY: Welcome to The Hollywood Masters, filmed on the campus of Loyola Marymount University. I think you all know our guest today, he’s really a genuine artist, and I think a lot of people in Hollywood, unfortunately you can’t say that of.  He’s a writer, a director, and of course an actor, he’s already put together an extraordinary body of work that includes Dead Poet’s SocietyThe Before Sunrise series, most recently, which I just love for those of you who haven’t seen it, you must see it.  He’s also directing an incredible documentary, and I’m going to show you a clip a bit later on.  So, I’m really delighted to welcome Ethan Hawke.

HAWKE:  Thanks for having me, thank you.  Yeah, yeah.  Hello everyone. 

GALLOWAY:  Where does the name Hawke come from? 

HAWKE:  Cornwall?  They were hawkers you know, like falconers.  Ornithologists, and obviously religious runaways that came to Nantucket.  And then worked their way to Ohio as tenant farmers.  And then after World War II, they were pretty religious family and so my grandfather refused to fight in the World War II but he built airplanes and air conditioners and things.  He didn’t want to kill anybody, and so after the war was over, he moved to Lennox, you just thought it was a little question.  I might talk all hour and a half about this.  The history of the Hawkes, from Cornwall, Connecticut.  No, anyway, and so then they settled in Texas, and then that’s where I was born. 

GALLOWAY:  The grandfather was English?

HAWKE:  No, no, God no.  We’re like five generation Americans or something.

GALLOWAY:  What prompted you to find that out?

HAWKE:  I feel like you’re gonna take me down the most boring answer in the whole world, but I’ll tell you, I wrote a little young adult novel, for my kids, and someday I hope to publish it.  But I wrote it for them, and it’s about, it’s called The Last Letter of Sir ThomasLemuel Hawke.  And it’s this guy who’s riding out to battle, he’s gonna fight the Thane of Cawdor, you know, which is Macbeth.  And he knows he’s gonna die, he’s worried he’s gonna die.  And so he wants to leave a few tenants, principles, for them to carry on without him.  Should he not return from this battle.  And it was pretty cool, and it took me down the rabbit hole of studying Cornwall, and imagining, part of it has to do with the fact that as a parent, you’re forced to do something that I’d never really thought about before, which is have rules, and [it's] funny, ‘cause I always hated rules.  Right? Everybody hates rules.  And but yet somehow kids need them, they even need to be against them, and I was trying to figure out what rules I believed in.  And I tried to give something about of how to develop a spiritual life without talking about god, which is a little riddle into itself.  But it was a challenge, and my wife did the drawings for it and it was really fun, and I learned a lot about Cornwall.  And someday we can go to Plint Barrow together and have a pint.

GALLOWAY:  Which rules do you believe in?

HAWKE:  I have totally hitched my wagon to the horse of storytelling, and the idea that none of us know why we’re born, or why we’re gonna die, or what we’re planted here, or what’s on the other side of the galaxy, or when time began, or when time end.  The whole nature of reality is pretty up for grabs, really.  And I kind of feel that the idea of sharing with each other and telling stories to each other, making sense out of our lives, because we all look through life through this tiny little keyhole, you know, we have this tiny little perspective of our parents, and the world that we grew up in, and that’s the only one we feel intimately.  But the more you read, you know, the more stories you hear, the more songs you heard sung of this thing and this thing, and in an ideal world...Pauline Kael said about movies, when a movie really hits you and the lights are down, you realize you’re actually not alone.  And that you’re actually not ashamed of yourselves and you’re not, you know, we all have this thing that we’re harboring these secret hurts that nobody else has.  And in fact, all of us are some deep powerful wounds, some not so.  See, but all of us have our own issues, and I think, I believe in the healing restorative power of art and communication.  And so that’s probably my rule.  But that doesn’t apply to bedtimes.  And stuff like that.

GALLOWAY:  At a certain point you let go of those hurts?

HAWKE:  Absolutely.  And I think that it…

GALLOWAY:  Have you and if so, when did you?

HAWKE:  Such an interesting question.  I have a friend who lost a sibling to drug addiction and he’s 40, and he’s at the hospital, and this other sister was there, and she’s a relapsing addict, and his mother was a kind of a disaster and the father wasn’t around and he was talking to me.  He left me this really long message about, it was time to have his own family.  That if he kept using the same roadmap he’d had as a young person, to survive, the same rules, he was gonna stay in the same place.  You know, these rules, these things that he’d done, his emotional tricks, or ways that he navigated his life, they worked as a young person.  But they actually weren’t gonna work for the second half of his life and he could kind of see it clearly, that it, there has to be a way to love these people, and not be trapped by them.  And that I think if you nurse your wounds too much, they start to become your identity.  And one of the things that was very powerful for me was the value of friendship.  Real friendship.  You know I’ve had a lot of good friends, who I feel kind of in a way saved my life, and one was the playwright Jonathan Marc Sherman, and the other was a filmmaker, RichardLinklater, both of whom I was lucky enough to meet really young, and they’re both people, Jonathan lost his mother very young to suicide and Rick has his own, you know, stuff he’s working through, and but they both never complained. 

They didn’t ever complain and they never had a hard word to say about anybody else.  There’s this whole kind of prevailing attitude in the arts that you know, f--k this person, f--k that, I’m in this pain, that somehow out of this pain, you’re going to unearth your real self.  And the missed idea there is that your real self is already there.  It doesn’t need to be unearthed.  You know, often times people think for example that self-laceration makes them better.  I have a lot of friends who are actors and stuff, and they beat themselves up mercilessly, and they think that that makes them good.  And they don’t realize that they’re good despite that laceration.  That their talent is actually not fragile.  That their talent is kind of the essence of who they are and it’s actually shining through.  You know, like Robin Williams used to talk about that  he thought the cocaine made him funny.  He didn’t realize he was funny despite the cocaine.  And the cocaine was actually an obstacle, and he was perceiving it because it alleviated some self-worth issues. 

GALLOWAY:  Did you talk to him about that?

HAWKE:  No, not close like that, like, but he’s a very open person that was close to a tremendous amount of people.  I got close to him in that I got to act with him.  And I got to experience.  Sometimes people save the best part of themselves for their art.  That’s not entirely uncommon.

GALLOWAY:  Do you?

HAWKE:  I try not to.  I always think that in a perfect scenario, which why not chase that, right.  That your development as a person should coincide with your development in all aspects of your life.  You know, and it’s hard to do.  But the documentary you know, I made this documentary.

GALLOWAY:  Isn’t it the opposite?

HAWKE:  He doesn’t want to talk about the documentary.

GALLOWAY:  I do, but I was watching Much Ado About Nothing.

HAWKE:  What, oh yeah.  His film version of it?

GALLOWAY:  Yeah.

HAWKE:  Yeah, you weren’t seeing him yeah, okay. 

GALLOWAY:  I was thinking what horrible anguish must Shakespeare have been in when he wrote Hamlet and Lear and Macbeth.  John Cleese said that after getting rid of his depression that his work is not so good. 

HAWKE:  That’s true for him I guess.  You know, some people believe that.  For me, that’s depressing.  You know, that the idea, I think perhaps his drive is less, maybe, I might say.  That you know, sometimes people, their creative drive comes from an energy to try to heal themselves.  That is true for me.  You know, and that maybe your ambition recedes a little bit, as you grow to like yourself.  You know, 'cause you don’t need other people to affirm that you’re a valuable person.  But I have met a great many artist who are very wise and very serious and are having a good time.

GALLOWAY:  Name one of those artists.

HAWKE:  Richard Linklater.  I mean, let’s not talk in airy, fairy land about people we don’t even know.  I’ll talk about people I know.  Tom Stoppard, he’s a card carrying genius.  And the guy’s awesome to be around.  He’s an inspiration to be around.  He’s in his70s, he’s writing his best work.  You know, and if you really think about it, if you take out self-destruction, I mean if as talking to young people, there’s something that Rick said to me when I was about 23, ‘cause River [Phoenix] had just died.  And he said, you know, if you take out self-destruction, if you actually eliminate that.  If you say to yourself, okay, I will not self-destruct.  Anything can happen.  I don’t have to be the most talented person.  I don’t have to be everybody’s best friend, I don’t have to be liked, I don’t have to be successful, well, one thing I will not do is self-destruct.  If you take that out, your chances for success just went up like 800 percent.  You know, half a life is you know, what’s the Woody Allen line, just show up.  And you know what’s mysterious is that sounds funny when you’re young, and as you get older, it’s hard.  Just showing up is hard.  Over and over again.  It’s hard.  I remember, I remember forgive me if this is out of turn, but you know, like I was on the set of Training Day with Denzel Washington, the guy was having a ball.  Doing some of the best work in his life, he’s having a ball. I remember him once saying to me how depressed he was after Malcolm X didn’t win the Oscar, I remember having no understanding for why.  I mean, you made Malcolm X, who cares what prize it wins?  I’d do anything to make something that good.  You know, and now as you get older, you know, you feel, it gets tiring.  I mean, I think part of one thing you don’t know as a young person is in school, you have a huge resource which is energy and idealism that as somebody who’s 44, I like being near it.  I look forward to coming here today, to feel what a room full of young people are thinking about and worrying about and, 'cause I imagine I’m just projecting now, but I imagine if Denzel didn’t win for Malcolm X, just the exhaustion you feel.  If this, what am I going to do that’s going to be better than this?  You know, so is this the end of, is this the wall of my gift, so to speak.  You know.

GALLOWAY:  When you started acting, what was going through your mind and what were your ambitions?  Let’s look at a clip from Dead Poet’s Society.

[MOVIE CLIP]

[APPLAUSE]

GALLOWAY:  How do you feel when you see that?

HAWKE:  Well what they cut out there is he says, don’t you forget this.  And for me, it’s one of these examples of how people think the past if finished you know, and the past isn’t finished, the past keeps changing.  Watching that quote, that clip this year is different than watching it four years ago.  ‘Cause it’s infused with Robin’s passing.  You know, and that for me, that is the first time in my life I ever acted you know, that scene.  I had performed before, I’d done a play, I’d even acted in another movie and but you know, we live in a, everybody loves to kind of deify the personality of the actor, you know, whether it’s Jack Nicholson, or Sean Penn or whoever is kind of like you know, insert your favorite actor here.  And yet the absolute joy and beauty of acting lies in the absence of personality, is the fact that you can disappear, the fact that you can wear someone else’s clothes, or speak in a different way than you were taught to, and still you are you.  You know, which gets at something that is extremely interesting about what is the essence of who we are, you know, if you weren’t British, if I weren’t born in Texas, you could’ve been.

GALLOWAY:  I was watching an interview you did with Julie Delpy and you said that she didn’t like you when you met because you were so American.  Are you Texan or not?

HAWKE:  Oh, I don’t know. 

GALLOWAY:  How old were you when you left Texas?

HAWKE:  Well I’m a little distracted because I didn’t, I wanted to tell you, I was eight, but I wanted to tell you that Robin got me my first agent, and that whole thing was a very, that scene was incredibly powerful, I’d never had the experience before of losing my identity.  And that Peter [Weir] was shooting these long takes.  And it was really, really beautiful, and so you know, when Robin just grabbed me and said, "Remember this," for me it was extremely meta, you know.  Because I’ve been chasing that moment my whole life.  You know, I mean that was acting, you know, and I’ve had it only a handful of times since, it’s just this thing that happens where you don’t even remember how it goes.  And that’s always the goal, is like getting away from yourself, and feeling yourself in service of a metaphor, ‘cause if you’re inside a metaphor, then it has meaning beyond yourself, you know, and that’s a very exciting feeling, but that’s what I, it was on the tip of tongue and I wouldn’t, OCD, you’re not going to be able to keep talking if I didn’t say it.  But you asked me when I left Texas, do I think of myself as a Texan?  Well next to Julie Delpy, everyone is a Texan.  Meaning, you know, she is extremely European, I mean when I met this young woman, she’d already worked with Godard, she worked with Kieslowski, she’d worked with Volker Schlondorff, she was like a character out of a novel.  I’d never met anyone that was my own generation that was that smart and that wild and that I mean, I don’t how many of you have read Georges BatailleThe Story of the Eye, but in the beginning of the book, movie, before sunrise, that’s the book she gives me, and she had given me that book in real life, and let me tell you, by your response I can tell not many of you have read it.

GALLOWAY:  Maybe zero.

HAWKE:  And this is a very, very f---ed up book, okay, and I remember reading it, you know it’s like when somebody gives you amixtape or something, and you kind of are looking for personal meanings inside the song, she gave me this book, I’m like, this book is some very disgusting things happen with this eyeball socket, okay.  So I’ll say no more, let your imagination do the work.  Anyway, she was a lot for me, you know, I’d never met anybody that radical in their thinking.  Now Rick was different, you know, Rick has this uncanny wisdom about him, and an ability to actually listen to other people.  He really likes people, and he’s really interested in what you have to say, and what he could possibly learn from you and it’s very relaxing to be around.  And it fills other people up with confidence.  There’s a great many directors like to wow you with their vision.  This is how it’s going to be.  They dictate, you know, they’re dictatorial, right, about how the frame should be, how the light should hit the thing, and Rick is much more Zen than that.  He’s interested in us all having a vision.  And for the movie to have a collective wisdom, and he doesn’t feel the need to hyperbolize life, which is incredibly…

HAWKE:  …exciting, I really related to that, so these are these two, and let me also say, he’s one of the most educated people about art, the two of them were a real slap in the face for me in 1993, in Vienna. 

GALLOWAY:  Were you intimidated by the people you work with?

HAWKE:  I was intimidated by both of them, for sure.  I’m intimidated by everybody.  I mean, everybody likes this posture of strength, you know, this posture that it’s such a badge of courage that you’re not intimidated, in a way, I think so many people don’t really listen to anybody else.  And if you really try to absorb other people, then it’s easy to be intimidated.  Hey, everybody’s got a lot going on, look out into here.  It’s very intimidating.

GALLOWAY:  Who’s most intimidated you that you worked with or met?

HAWKE:  Stoppard.

GALLOWAY:  Do you guys all know who he is? 

HAWKE:  Tom Stoppard is, has a, what do you call, an intellect that is very, I’ll give you an example.  Tom forgive me.  But so after one, a preview performance of Coast of Utopia, I was doing this nine hour play, all right, about mid-19th century Russian radicals.  It’s a very, very intense play.  Very difficult play, in the end of act one, end with the line of, well that won’t do, was my line.  And Tom came up to me, maybe it was not act one, it was like scene four or something like that, but it doesn’t matter.  And he said, is it well, that won’t do?  Or is it, well that won’t do?  I said, geez Tom.  I don’t know.  Let me go look.  And I went to the script and looked and I came back to him and I said, oh Tom, you know what it is, it’s well, that won’t do.  He said, yes I know.  [LAUGH]  And here’s the funny thing, the punchline to the story is, the next night, well, that won’t do.  Huge laugh, that I hadn’t been getting.  And I realize, wow, this guy understands the architecture of his own play.  And the way that it is built.  You know, I remember like, once, there’s a kind of famous production of him seeing, having a director give his, you know, kind of welcome speech to the cast.  I wasn’t there for this, this is hearsay.  And Tom said, well it seems there are two ways to approach this play, and you are taking the other.  [LAUGH]  You know, and so.

GALLOWAY:  That’s a great line.

HAWKE:  Yeah.  He’s incredibly smart, incredibly wise, and gifted and it’s fun to be with people who know a lot more than you do.  You know, some people who show you, oh wait there’s a reason it’d be fun to be 80.  You know, if you could keep participating and keep learning, you know. 

GALLOWAY:  Linklater has been a creative relation for you.  Let’s look at Before Sunrise, the first of the three.

HAWKE:  I’m so excited to see what clip you picked.  Don’t tell me.

GALLOWAY:  Our producer picked the clips.

HAWKE:  Okay.  All right, so you're not, abnegating responsibility.  Okay.

GALLOWAY:  We discussed it. 

[MOVIE CLIP]

GALLOWAY:  Did we pick the right clip?

HAWKE:  Yeah, you did, I’m glad you picked that one.  Because it’s, that’ll give you an example, that’s Julie and I’s dynamic.  Julie kept saying, I would never get off the train with you.  You know, and so we’d do these rehearsal processes where I would have to try to figure out what it would take you know, we would do these like kind of improvs, and I’d be, hey come on baby, we’ll get ice cream.  She’d be like, oh my God.  I’d kill myself.  Okay.  Hey baby, you wanna ride the Ferris wheel.  [SNORE]  What a teenager.  You know, and so with prompts from her, about what it would take to wow her.  You would have to be smart, it would have to show me that you are thinking about me, it would have to show me, she had all these kind of rules, and finally, I came up with an idea that would get her off the train.

GALLOWAY:  How much of this was written and how much was improvised?

HAWKE:  Oh, everything’s written, but it’s the way Rick works, it’s very for some, people love to think it’s improvisation, we never go to the set to improv, never.  And almost never, but, and, but what will happen is we’d sit, we sat in a room for a month, and you know, Rick had a very kind of clear structure of okay, they meet on a train, they talk for 20 minutes, they have some kind of bonding, some kind of connection, he talks her into getting off the train, they go for a walk, the Ferris wheel at Sunset will be their first kiss, then they’ll go have coffee, then they’ll be the best scene in the movie, and then that’s kind of how he writes it out.  I remember, T-B, you know, S-I-M, the best scene in a movie.  That’s scene number eight.  Best scene in the movie, he’s like, it has to go to a whole nother level.  But he didn’t even what that was gonna be.  I mean it’s a super Zen approach to screenwriting which is exasperating tofinancers.  But.

GALLOWAY:  What was it to you when you met him? 

HAWKE:  Well, I had started a theater company with my aforementioned friend John Marc Sherman, and we were doing one of his plays, and Anthony Rapp, who was in Dazed and Confused, was in the play, and so Linklater came to see Anthony Rapp in this play, and we all went and hung out.  And we got along pretty thick as thieves and he told me all about this movie, it was originally when he first talked about it, it was supposed to take place in San Antonio, I remember, it was, he wasn’t sure whether it should be like French dude who meets a girl from Texas, you know what I mean, there were a lot of variations of how the movie could’ve been manifest.  But yeah, we talked all about it, and he sent me the script and I thought he was offering me the movie, and I had a lot of notes about it.  But then in fact he wasn’t offering me the movie, he wanted me to audition and so I put my notes away, went and auditioned, then he offered me the movie.  And I said, well, I’m not sure I want to do it.  And so, and he wrote me an incredibly beautiful letter that I still have about, ‘cause I was, I had a lot of concerns about the script, and if he were here, I would say this.  I mean, there was, I had a long monologue, I mean, I’m talking long, like four pages long, about why John Huston’s The Dead is the greatest last movie ever made in the history of cinema.  And while I agree with the sentiment, I didn’t think it made for good drama.  You know, and-.

GALLOWAY:  If you get the chance, it’s a great film.

HAWKE:  It is a great film, but that’s, [OVERLAP] I know, but that was one of.  That was what I was supposed to do to woo her to get off the train or something, you know, and I was like that’s not.  But anyway, he wrote me this letter saying look, I’ve never been in a helicopter crash, I’ve never been involved in any kind of espionage, I’ve never been involved in any kind of gun play.  And my life feels like it’s full of drama.  And the most significant thing that ever happened to me in my life was the feeling I’ve had when I really connect with another human being.  And I really am giving myself the challenge to make a movie about that.  And so I what I need is two people who want to make that movie and then we’ll just make it together, don’t worry about the script, we’ll, it’ll be what you want it to be. 

GALLOWAY:  How do you achieve that level of naturalism in your acting?

HAWKE:  Well, rehearsal.  That’s the great myth, nobody ever wants to work hard.  You know, everybody wants, you know, this whole, you’ll see it in the documentary, and you’ll see more of this Bernstein, this piano teacher I love, talks about the kind of American talent myth.  The idea that we’re born with you know, we’re either Marlon Brando, or you’re not.  You’re either Bob Dylan or you’re not.  You’re either, you know, it’s easy, in the film industry, it’s terrible, it’s really easy sometimes for first time directors to get their movie made because we all believe in this kind of Orson Welles mythology.  Ew, maybe he’s gonna be Orson Wells.  But you actually, it’s hard, somebody like Linklater’s made 19 movies.  You kind of know what you’re gonna get.  You’re gonna get a Richard Linklater film.  You know, and or John Sayles film, or a, you know, whatever it is.  And people want this magic myth, you know, regular ordinary, hard work is not enough for some people.  And the way you get this level of naturalism in Boyhood, or the Before Trilogy, we’re really building on something Stanislavsky and Chekhov started talking about a long time ago.  And Lee Strasberg picked up, it’s rehearsal and living and embodying your character in a way that you’re actually seeing the world through their perspective.  And if a collective can do that, then you have this kind of, then this thing happens, where real life happens.  And I’ll give you an example where once on Before Sunset, I was doing a scene and I was really moved by something Julie was saying, kind of maybe teared up a little bit or something like that.  And Rick said, what are you doing?  He was like, it seems like you’re like really upset about this or something.  I’m like, yeah.  He’s like, not now.  You’re still trying to seduce her.  Like, I get that you’re moved, and I’m moved too, but if you start acting, then we’ll realize there’s no plot, and if we realize there’s no plot, the movie will totally breakdown.  You would get misty-eyed thinking about this, later.  But in the moment, just watch her.  I’m like, yeah, you’re right.  And every other director I’ve ever had in my life would get so excited by any displays of emotions and stuff.  And Rick’s, Rick likes, he enjoys life as it is.  Doesn’t need any unnecessary.

GALLOWAY:  These films are so unconventional in structure. 

HAWKE:  We’ve been kicked out of every decent screenwriting class in the world, yeah. 

GALLOWAY:  Right.  There is no protagonist, antagonist. 

HAWKE:  We don’t have an event at the 20 page mark. 

GALLOWAY:  There is not that much suspense.  Were you nervous about that going into it?

HAWKE:  Well it’s why I went into it.  I mean, you know, Rick has this thing he likes to say that I just love, that you know, the movies, is still the Wild West.  I mean this form is so young.  I mean, people are conditioned to just you know, like, you know we’re like little birdies going to the bird feeder you know, or the little cows going to the salt lick.  We just like what we’ve seen before.  But the medium is wide open, if we can open our brains.  And there will be likeminded people that will go there with us, you know, as soon as people, there’s a great scene in Dead Poet’s Society where they try to measure Dr. G.H. Pritchett and Robin has this rip him out, and I always think about that, you know, the, a poem must have emotional scale and this and a rhyming meter, there’s no rules to cinema.  It’s wide open.  And the question is can you make something that has something to say?  You know, and I intuited from Rick that this idea of a lack of drama, there’s a great many, it was gonna be beautiful to me, a lot of movies that I love end up making me feel like shit about my own life.  You know, like you, oh gGd, my girlfriend’s not that pretty or you know, how come I’ve never seen anything interesting like that?  Or, I never kissed anybody in the rain.  Or, you know, how come you know, how come you know, Laurence Fishburne didn’t tell me my life was a computer program.  I mean, we all long for this stuff, you know.  I remember walking out of that movie, what’s the blue people movie, I remember walking out, I was so depressed after that movie, it might as well have been Fanny and Alexander to me.  I was like, and my wife was, what’s the problem?  And you’re just like, I want to meet blue people.  I want to have sex with a blue person.  I mean it just looks awesome.  You know, and it’s never gonna happen.  And what I love about Rick’s movies is it makes you want to be in your own life, your life’s more interesting than that.  I mean, you know, and that’s kind of the prevailing philosophy.  Which people, see, people find this so pretentious, and I don’t know why I don’t, but I don’t find it pretentious, but I know other people do, but that’s what Chekhov was going after.  And the reason why I, why Rick and I, I, my whole life as an actor, have been aspiring.  I love that idea of putting real life on screen.  And that, and the enemy to putting real life on screen is plot.  ‘Cause our life doesn’t have a plot, we’re living our life right now, but this day has no plot, it has no beginning, middle and end.  Your relationship with your dad, I promise you is gonna change even after your dad passes.  You know, it doesn’t have a beginning, middle and an end in a way that you know, it’s a lie, but it’s a lie that the audience wants.  And Rick, he’s found a way to penetrate that.  And what happens is it allows you to be a human being on film.  It’s really exciting.  And it allows.

GALLOWAY:  When you came to write the sequels, how did it come up and what gives it structure in your mind?

HAWKE:  Well we’ve replaced plot with time.  That there’s an energy that before sunset has for example, for anybody that’s interested but, simply that we’re nine years older.  There’s, or Boyhood is another example.  That there’s no plot to Boyhood, but time.  You know, the fact that time is happening creates this feeling of impending doom.  You know, it’s the, Hitchcock said, you know, the gun’s got to go off, or the you know, somebody’s got to get killed, and if, well time is this real force that is pulling us all.  And when you see it, and in the Before Trilogy, time is the main character as well.  What is gonna, what happens to romantic love with time?  Pummeling of the waves, you know.  And so that’s what gives it its tiny bit of, it’s just enough of a hook to keep you on.

GALLOWAY:  When you did the first one, did you have any idea you would do a sequel?

HAWKE:  Oh, God no.  God no. 

GALLOWAY:  At this stage in your life you’ve done Dead PoetsGattaca, the Before series.  How did that feel being an actor, pre Training Day?

HAWKE:  Training Day was the first time I was washed up.  You know, before it.  You know, it’s funny, I would go, I would try to get seen for movies and I was kind of famous so, people, they’re like, oh no, I know him.  Not him.  And so it was, and there was this whole other crop of actors that were, had just graduated college, and were just, they were 28, coming into their own, 29.  And I was really envious of a lot of these people because they were fully formed before they had to kind of withstand the you know, machinations of corporate America and the Hollywood movie industry, and I was passé, you know.  I was that the kid from Dead Poet’s Society that didn’t really amount to much.  You know, now that’s the way it was, I felt you know, or people could make you to feel.  Now obviously, I didn’t feel that way about myself.  You know.  I didn’t.  No, I was doing really interesting work on stage, in, and I can tell you this, with a 100 percent certainty, that the most creative and most periods of my life that were, had the most growth, were the ones where I was perceived to be failing.  You know.  Perceived success is a, is really hard ‘cause it doesn’t really, it’s not asking you to grow, see failure is asking you to grow.  And I’ll give you an example, you know, I remember doing a Sam Shepard play in Chicago, and I got terrible reviews.  And it really hurt, ‘cause I [always?] worked hard on it, and the play meant a lot to me.  And then I don’t now, ten years later, I directed a Sam Shepard play, and I got great reviews.  Just you know, unbelievable, great reviews.  And I remember thinking, god ain’t that weird.  Everybody hated the other one I did, but this one wouldn’t have existed without that one.  You know, and you start to see your life as this weird spider web which is a, you kind of just go from here to there, and kind of seems like you’re not doing anything.  And then 25 years go by, and there’s a little web behind you.  And things that seem like a waste of time of why you went over there, well actually, that was a whole support system for something else that you needed.  And one of the things that we need is failure.  Humility.  Friends.  You know, and nothing breeds friends like failure, success isolates you from your friends.  You know, and the great thing, I always try to tell people, the great, like you know, Rick’s nominated for best director, and he’s my friend, I think well the good news is, if you lose, everybody will like you.  And say, damn he should’ve won.  And if you win, everybody will hate you, but at least you won.  So it’s kind of win-win.  You know, and that’s how life works. 

GALLOWAY:  Did you feel humiliated in failure?

HAWKE:  Humiliated is too strong a word.  What’s the Eleanor Roosevelt line, nobody can make you feel humiliated.  You know, to hell with that.  I felt disappointed, I felt I had something to offer and I wasn’t being able to do it.  That’s different than being humiliated.  I felt like I want to be in the game, coach.  You know, like that kind of thing.  But I’ve had many periods like that, in my life.  You know, but that’s the, that’s a trajectory of any kind of long, there’s some people obviously who are so amazing they don’t do mediocre work and so they just kind of you know, whether it’s Paul McCartney or Daniel Day-Lewis, or whoever you want to point to, these people who are operating in a very high level all the time.  And that must be very exciting. 

GALLOWAY:  Are you a fair judge of your own work?

HAWKE:  I should probably be a lot more critical. 

GALLOWAY:  Let’s take a look at a Training Day clip.

[MOVIE CLIP] 

[APPLAUSE]

GALLOWAY:  Did we choose the right scene?

HAWKE:  I like this whole movie.  If I’m allowed to say that? 

GALLOWAY:  Why?

HAWKE:  Because when I was younger, Denzel Washington was my favorite actor.  You know, I remember I saw him in St. Elsewhere and stuff, and that was okay, but I remember seeing Cry Freedom, and being like, who is this person?  And then I just kind of watched everything that he did, and there’s very few people who are genuine movie starts who can really act in a way that I find just mesmerizing.  There’s a spontaneity and a depth to him, obviously he’s transcended all kinds of racial barriers that I never even had to consider.  And so, you can’t over, you can’t give this stuff too much credence, you know, he’s just an actor, but so I really enjoyed having the opportunity to work with him on a part that was so challenging to him.

GALLOWAY:  Was he easy to work with?

HAWKE:  You know being easy to work with; I wouldn’t say that any of the best people I’ve worked with are easy to work with.  I mean easy is really not very interesting.  Julie Delpy’s not easy to work with.  Denzel’s not easy.  Robert De Niro’s not easy to work with.  Richard Linklater’s not easy to work with, you know.  I would be-you could never achieve the level of success that he has if he was easy to work with.  Most people, including myself, you know are pretty accepting of mediocrity, you know.  It’s funny as I watch-as I find myself getting older I realize that part of my job now is to help the younger people around me be better at their job.  And I never thought of that before.  But Denzel, don’t fuck with him, man; you know, come to the set with some sloppy work.  I loved it.  I love somebody set the bar high for crying out loud, you know.  I mean everybody just is so complacent, you know it’s like they’re waiting for Martin Scorsese to show up to give them permission to do great work.  Why not do it now?  Why not do it with your friends, you know? 

GALLOWAY:  How did that movie come about?

HAWKE:  Training Day?  Denzel and Antoine Fuqua really wanted me.  The studio didn’t want me.  I mean they like to tell the story.  But it was obviously a great opportunity that everybody wanted or a lot of more popular actors than me at that time that wanted it.  But Denzel really wanted somebody who could play with him, you know.  And he puts a high value on the theater.  And he was extremely interested in me for that part.  And so they came and I had to do a screen test.  And I did this test and Denzel went totally off book during my test.  And I walked out debating about whether to go back in and tell them all to go to hell because you know I felt like I had been sabotaged because we didn’t do anything that was on the page.  And I didn’t think that was fair because he had the part.  It’s easy to improvise when you’ve got the part, you know.  But then I was sitting outside.  I was in LA, I was sitting outside about to-I was thinking about going in and telling them to just go to hell.  And then I got the call saying yeah, they -- it went great, they want you.  I was like, “Oh, they did?  I love them.  They were amazing.” [LAUGHTER]

GALLOWAY:  What surprised you about him?

HAWKE:  About Denzel?  How hard he works, you know.  I mean you know I’d have to be in a-I mean I could tell you.  But it’s not some mystery to me why he’s in the place that he’s at and it’s very hard, you know.  It was a great Allen Ginsberg line about it’s pretty difficult to survive success or failure.  He was kind of equating Bob Dylan and Emily Dickinson.  The true-when you’re really gifted then you’re-what it is is you’re in touch with your own creativity.  And it actually doesn’t need anybody else’s patting you on the back and it won’t be destroyed by it.  But a lot of people are destroyed by their need to be loved or their lack of getting it, you know.  And it’s very difficult to work at the level that he has worked for as long.  And I don’t know if any of you have seen Flight, but I think it’s some of the-one of my just favorite performances.  It’s an incredible performance.  And but I lost what question did you ask me?

GALLOWAY:  Was there a lot of rehearsing?

HAWKE:  In this movie?

GALLOWAY:  Yeah.

HAWKE:  Every film I’ve ever been on has different-see theater rehearsal always used to work a set way.  Theater’s an ancient profession, it’s worked it.  Cinema is so new.  We rehearsed for this movie.  But a lot of my rehearsal for this movie was riding around undercover you know and getting-learning about it.  Denzel and I would meet these guys.  We’d ride around with them.  I did a bunch of ride-arounds on my own.  I was trying to figure out what the reality-this was at a time period when the CRASH units in LA were - there was a lot going on with that.  It was a part of the news.  It was really extremely interesting.

GALLOWAY:  Were you ever in any dangerous situations while driving with them?

HAWKE:  No.  Some other people were in danger but I wasn’t.  You know I mean they-I did some real police work.  I don’t know.  It was fascinating.

GALLOWAY:  What was fascinating about it?

HAWKE:  Oh, real life-how compromise.  It was really interesting to me.  This one cop I’ll give you an example of.  This cop I was talking to about how he got a tip from one of his informants that there was two kilos of cocaine underneath you know some dude’s green sofa, all right.  So we went in there-and got a warrant and he went in there and there it was two kilos of cocaine underneath this dude’s sofa.  Except it was quite clear to him; his whole understanding of humanity told him that this guy had no idea that cocaine was there.   And that this guy was being set up by somebody else that his informant was setting up this guy.  And this guy was a family and he wasn’t sure what the story was.  But he didn’t want to arrest this guy because his whole body told him this guy did not-this is not his cocaine.  So he took it and he put it in his trunk and he said he didn’t find anything.  Now he’s got two kilos of cocaine in the back of his trunks that he-is unreported.  What do you do with this?  Well, the first thing he did with it is he sold half of it for information about another crime.  And he found a dead body and he got a conviction by selling the thing.  And it started a path of breaking the law to-it just showed how gray the line was.  It was just a really great example.  He was saying that this is how he started breaking the law because it was all in the name of good.  But then you’re a cowboy.  And then you’re a rogue.  And you still got another kilo of coke.  And you start doing it and you’re dealing drugs.  And you’re getting busts, good arrests.  But you’re also dealing coke.  And it’s an interesting line about where-how the slope first gets slippery.

GALLOWAY:  What do you learn as a director from Antoine Fuqua and who has shaped you?

HAWKE:  Well, Antoine was an inspiration to me because he’s so visually arresting and exciting.  And at the same time he doesn’t-he’s a little bit more like Sidney Lumet in that he wants the movie to be about the characters, you know not about the great direction.  And I mean if you look at the scene we just watched it’s impeccably directed.  It’s so beautiful.  And it’s so easy to screw that stuff up.  And he had a smell for authenticity that great directors have and a smell for performance.  And he also doesn’t have a lot of ego.  A lot of the worst jobs I’ve ever done have from being over-directed; directors who want to be Elia Kazan so they get in there and they start telling you everything.  And all of a sudden you don’t know what you’re doing at all.  And Antoine was super smart.  He’d say, “Listen, I know that you know.”  Well, he said this to Denzel and I, “I want the acting to be as good as Dog Day Afternoon.  I want the acting to be as good as French Connection.  What do you need to have that happen?”  You know, “All right, well here’s what I need.  I need this.  I need this.”

GALLOWAY:  What did you say you need?

HAWKE:  It depends on the scene.  There’s no-if I knew the-we needed X amount of rehearsal.  I needed to believe myself in these situations.  Let’s actually shoot on location which is what Antoine really wanted.  He was like, “And we want a lot of two-shots.”  You know two-shots sell. The close-up has killed cinema you know because everybody loves to watch things on their iPod.  And the directors sit on the monitor and they just want to see, you know.  Sidney Lumet used to talk about that a lot, about how the close-up has been so overused it’s robbed it of its power.

GALLOWAY:  I think Seymour is beautifully directed.

HAWKE:  Thank you.

GALLOWAY:  What were the challenges for you going into the film?  Let’s watch a clip.

HAWKE:  This is always such a suspenseful moment. [LAUGHTER]

[MOVIE CLIP]

HAWKE:  Well, let me be very clear that I never set out to make a documentary.  It was never something I wanted to do.  It wasn’t on my wish list.  That’s a true story.  I was having a lot of issues at 40.  I’ve been acting professionally since I was 12.  I had my first like real bouts of stage fright that I just didn’t understand and I couldn’t make sense out of.  And I got invited to some dinner party that I didn’t want to go to and my wife made me go.  And I sat down next to this man and he just, “What’s bothering you?”  And I just told him.  You know it’s kind of-I just told him the truth because he seemed like he wanted to hear you know or he seemed not scary.  And I just learned more from him at this dinner about what was happening to me than I had from anybody in my own profession.  And I came home and I Googled this guy and tried to figure out who the hell he was.  And the more I read about him the more interested in him I became.  And I said to my wife, “Somebody needs to make a documentary about this guy.  Maybe Linklater could do it.  Who would make the thing?”  And she said, “Well, why don’t you do it?”  I was like, “I don’t have time to do this.”  And, “Well let’s-why don’t you write him and see if he’s interested?”  And it just started.  I just started filming him over a period of a couple years.  And then I-he hadn’t-what’s interesting about him is at the age of 50 he was a big-time concert pianist.  He played all over the world; London, Vienna, Paris.  He opened Lincoln Center.  And he just retired at 50.  He just stopped playing and dedicated the second half of his life to teaching.  And I got him to play again in front of people, yeah, which was fun for me.

GALLOWAY:  Why did you start getting stage fright?

HAWKE:  Well, maybe a little bit has to do with that Sarah Bernhardt story, you know.  That you start to realize that it is important.  There is this feeling you have when you’re young that oh, everything’s ahead of you, you know it’s all coming.  Then you kind of hit this wall where you realize all right there are a limited amount of opportunities.  And it really does matter what we do.  It really does matter how we carry ourselves.  I remember saying to Tom Stoppard once you know before this play, I was like, “God, I’m sonervous.”  And he said, “Well, you should be.  You’re the tip of the spear.  If you fail, we all fail.” [LAUGHTER] Jesus Christ and he’s right, God.  You know I hope I remember my lines.  And with a little bit of humility comes-you know the arrogance sometimes is a shield.  “By God, I’m going to be great.  I’m going to do it.  I’m going to be great.”  And it gives you confidence.  And with the right amount of humility your confidence can just totally falter.  But what Seymour would say is it’s the opening.  It’s the opening.  It’s the softening for you to do something really valuable.

GALLOWAY:  Do you still feel that stage fright?

HAWKE:  No.  I made this documentary in a lot of ways to work on it.  I mean it was really just pure and simple.  I wanted to make up a reason to spend more time with this person because you know as bad as actors have it pianists have it much worse; the anxiety.  I mean they’ll play Carnegie Hall.  And it’s one night.  And if they screw it up you know that will go on your permanent record.  You know what I mean?  It’s just over.  You know your left finger goes south, I mean that’s-they have it very intensely.  And so he was a great person to learn from on that front.  And my hope in making a documentary is a little bit Zen of me, the art of playing the piano, you know that if you play the piano the right way it relates in how to build the combustion engine the right way.  I mean everything is really built in the same principles.

GALLOWAY:  What got you over the stage fright?

HAWKE:  There’s no simple pithy remark that I can you know hand down from some dubious mountaintop... It’s what I mean to say-what the point of that Sarah Bernhardt is it’s a privilege to be nervous.  When you stop being ashamed of it it loses its power.  I would have-the idea that I would have even confessed to you five years ago that I felt this way I would have-it would be like admitting I was some you know child or something.  But if you alleviate the shame of it and go, “You know what, I am nervous because I do care.  This is important.  I’ve put a lot of thought into this.  I worked for years to get here and I could blow it.  But I’m not going to because I’m prepared.”  You know and then you kind of relax a little bit.  What’s the athletes always say?  That pressure’s a choice, you know.  And but sometimes you feel it come on and by pretending you don’t feel the pressure becomes-you get brittle, you know.  And by admitting you know Sarah Bernhardt’s-her hand’s shaking like a leaf because you know she knows it matters.

GALLOWAY:  Let’s look at a clip from Boyhood.

[MOVIE CLIP]

[APPLAUSE]

GALLOWAY:  What was the initial conversation with the director?

HAWKE:  It was awesome.  And I remember waiting for his-I just couldn’t believe nobody had done it before.  I was like, “This is going to be incredible.”  And I can only tell you that I just felt so sure about it.  I mean the whole thing was an act of faith, of course.  I mean you know you-we couldn’t sign contracts.  And I was obviously worried that who would pay for such an endeavor.  I mean that’s the biggest hurdle.  I knew Rick well enough to know that this is an extremely patient human being and he was not going to lose interest, you know.  And of course finding Ellar was-it was like hunting for the Dalai Lama, you know.

GALLOWAY:  Were you involved with that hunt?

HAWKE:  No.  I mean only the way a best friend would be involved.  I just heard how it was going.

GALLOWAY:  Were you brought in for editing?

HAWKE:  Sure, everybody was involved.  It was the fact that Rick used us as an example of his truth.  You know if you look at a eight-year-old River Phoenix where he talked about Explorers.  He’s like, “Go see Explorers.”  He’s like, “I knew you guys were going to be good.”  Like people act like life is such a mystery.  You know he’s like, “I could tell with my kids when I went.”  He you know, “This one’s going to be interested in sports.  This one’s not.”  Like there is a lot, if you’re still willing to listen and spend time with somebody, there’s a lot.  It’s not that mysterious, you know.  But anyway, what about editing and stuff?

GALLOWAY:  Did the script evolve over 12 years?

HAWKE:  Well, it had to.  You can’t write a scene about Lady Gaga in 2002, you know you can’t.  We did the scene with the election with McCain and Obama not knowing who was going to win.  It was like fun making a period movie in the present.  It was really interest-trying to figure out well, remember we were coming up with the whole Sarah Palin stuff and go, “Are people going to remember Sarah Palin?”  And I would think, “God, I hope not.”  “Well yeah, I think they will.  I think this is going to register.”  You know and then deciding all right, well it will be interesting even if it doesn’t you know because we-Rick and I would talk about how one of the things.

HAWKE:  Rick always viewed the movie as a memory.  It was already a memory in his mind, like what do you remember about your childhood, is it collage moments?  It’s never the big moments, never the first beer or losing your virginity, all that stuff.  He had this line; he’s like when that stuff happens you feel like almost an extra in a movie of your life.  Like but the real stuff was just hanging out with your friends, or being on a swing, or you know where you just try to-one of them being I remember saying to Rick, “You know one of the most-I remember the first moment I realized that there were no elves.”  He was like, “Yeah, we got to get that in the movie.  Right, I love that moment.”  And the whole thing just evolved.  It was a long decade-plus dialog about childhood and growing up and it was so fun.  I’m so sad it’s over.

GALLOWAY:  How do you feel when you watch yourself age onscreen over 12 years?

HAWKE:  I think much is made of that.  It’s as if there’s an alternative, you know.  And it’s I keep-I never can explain this well.  But do you know how when it’s extremely hot, like it’s really hot, and you’re at a pool or something and everybody’s just, “God it’s hot today, huh?”  And you go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”  Five minutes go by, somebody goes, “Woo-hoo, hot today.”  Right, “Yes, it’s hot.”  I feel that way about aging.  Everybody keeps saying, “Woo, you’re getting older.”  “Yeah, me too; yeah, time goes fast.”  Geez, I mean my whole life everybody’s been saying that over and over again.  Yes, it is true.  And even if you like you know jack yourself up on plastic surgery you’re still aging.  It’s like my kids, we met somebody who had a lot of plastic surgery the other day, and as soon as she left the room my son said, “How old is she?”  And it’s true because there’s just you know it’s like there’s a ripple in the force or something, you know it’s…

GALLOWAY:  Have you seen the documentary series, 7 Up, where every seven years…

HAWKE:  …they interview these children?

GALLOWAY:  Right, a British filmmaker.

HAWKE:  Yeah, but that film’s largely about class.

GALLOWAY:  But whatever they are now, you know.

HAWKE:  They’re in the 50’s now.

GALLOWAY:  The way time hurdles by is kind of heartbreaking.

HAWKE:  Well, life is heartbreaking, it is.  But no, I mean that’s what’s profound about the movie.  Is the absolute-it’s like the only question is what part of us is continuous?  You watch that little boy staring at the sky.  And then at the end he’s you know chewing on a hash brownie and flirting with a girl.  And it’s like it’s the same person.  He’s unrecognizable but we watched him get there.  And there is continuity inside here somewhere.  But what is it?  Because it’s not the body, you know and it’s not time.  We think we have all of this agency in our life, like, “Oh, am I going to go to this college or this college?”  And yet so much of what defines who we are is our parents and what they’ve been through; our brothers and sisters, what happened to them.  And then the town we live in, the culture we live in, the time period we live in; all of that is shaping us to the point where we almost have no agency at all.  I mean it’s very delicate what our agency is.  And that’s what the movie’s touching on.  And that’s by-you know Rick is just you know he’s harnessing the power of time as this huge special effect in the movie.  But I find it very powerful.

GALLOWAY:  Let’s take questions.  Introduce yourself first.

Q:  Hi, I’m Ali.  Thank you so much for coming, by the way.

HAWKE:  My pleasure.

Q:  Could you tell us more about the writing process that you used?

HAWKE:  The writing process was some of the most exciting and rewarding moments of my life.  It felt a lot like being in a band.  We met on Waking Life.  For those of you who haven’t seen it there’s a movie called Waking Life that Richard Linklater directed that’s brilliant.  I love it so much.  And Rick wanted Julie and I to have a little cameo in this movie so we all got together in Austin.  It had been about five years since Before Sunrise.  And we just got along like hellfire.  You know I mean and just and when we walked out Rick was like, “We got to make another movie together.  Where would these characters be right now?”  And so for a few years we would go, “Well what do you think?  What do you think?  Maybe they should get married?  What if this happened?  What happens?”  And we didn’t know what to do.  And I had written a book and was doing a book tour and Rick came to introduce me at a book reading at like you know a Barnes & Noble in Austin.  And after it was over he picked me up because we were going to drive out to the country and do something.  I don’t know what.  And he picked me up and he’s like, “I know what should happen.”  I’m like, “What?”  “Jesse wrote a book about meeting her.  You know they didn’t-and she shows up at the booking signing.”  He’s like, “That’s how they should meet again.”  I was like, “That’s awesome.”  He’s like, “I just don’t know what happens after that.”  And I’m like, “Nothing.  That’s it.  That’s the whole movie.  That should be the whole movie.”  And he’s like, “You’re right.  That’s awesome.  Well, they’ll just like walk around.  It will all be in real time.  It will be a ticking-that will be the bomb, you know are they going to say goodbye again or not?”  You know and you just feel that, are they going to?  Yeah-yeah-yeah.  So we got home, we called Julie, and she was like, “Okay, okay, well when are we going to do this?”  And so we met in LA for a week and we batted out an outline like how could that be, you know?  Basically it was as simple as meet at the book tour and then the last exchange of the movie, which is for those of you who haven’t seen it, it was, “Boy, you’re going to miss that plane.”  And him saying, “I know.”  Cut to black and we’re like we’ll figure out the rest later.  And then we went to-then Rick hustled together some money on the outline.  We were both given assignments.  Rick would say you have a good hit on that idea; you have a good hit on that one.  And I’ll try to write that and send it to me.  So we arrived in Paris about a month before shooting with about a 30-page script.  And then we just worked every day building on the ideas.  And the trouble with that movie was that there would be no deleted scenes.  I mean because it was time continuous Rick knew there was no editing of that movie.  It all-we had to have it all figured out before.  And he knew we wanted to do these long takes so that was that one.  And then the third one came about seven years later.  We all kind of thought, “Well, should we do another one?”  And I had a burning desire to do a third one.  I felt like I loved the ending of the second one.  But I felt like it was a call that needed an answer.  You know it felt unfinished to me.  And so we met at my house when Julie was directing some movie.  Rick came in and we all kind of sat around and said, “What do you see?”  And we all had the same idea for the movie; that it should be about what happens when you get what you want.  You know the first two were kind of about unrequited love.  And the third had to be the answer about what happens when you get what you want.

GALLOWAY:  Is there going to be a fourth one?

HAWKE:  You know we made a deal that five years after it came out, the third one, we’ll meet and we’ll see.  If we keep seeing the characters in the same trajectory and we all want to write the same movie we’ll keep going.

Q:  Hi, I’m Mia.  I’m a film production and screenwriting second-year student.  And also coming back to the trilogy, the performance there is really amazing.  I mean people feel like they are watching their own life unfold onscreen.  So you talked a little bit about rehearsing with Richard.  And I was just wondering if you could give us some tips for rehearsals and directing actors.

HAWKE:  I’ll tell a story that wasn’t from that movie, but it’s the same thing.  I did a movie called Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sidney Lumet.  And we were rehearsing and we finished the scene and Sidney said to Phil, “I really think that Andy should cry here, don’t you?”  And Phil was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, on the day he should probably fall topieces.”  You know and Sidney goes, “What do you mean?”  “Well, I mean when we do it.”  And Sidney’s like, “Well, we’re doing itnow.”  And Philip says, “Well, I mean when we shoot.”  He goes, “Yeah, but we’re shooting now.”  Meaning you play as you practice, you know.  Let’s do it now.  What are we saving it for?  What is it, some kind of magic?  It only comes once in a lifetime?  No.  Let’s do it.  I want to see if it works.  What do you mean he should ball his guts out?  Let’s do it.  And I remember Phil goes to me, “Did Pacino do this shit?”  And Rick is the same way.  He would drill Julie and I.  Julie-I love the process because I do a lot of plays but Julie kind of hates it.  I mean the process of rehearsal because you have to get past the-see if you just rehearse a little bit all spontaneity goes out of it.  And if you’ve rehearsed a lot it comes back.  It’s really strange and I know that from the theater.  There’s always a moment in the third week of rehearsal of a play that the thing is a disaster.  It’s never-you know you’re longing for that first day of rehearsal.  And then it [MAKES NOISE] and then it’s oddly enough usually around six-seven weeks the play is really at its finest.  And then it can start getting still.

Q:  Hi, Hawke.  I’m Jamie O’Duncan.

HAWKE:  Hey, Jamie.

Q:  And I’m a second-year graduate in production.  And I was wondering how you pick your roles?  You’ve had a few.  You’ve had several films that kind of involved your life over decades now.  And I was wondering like what is-what’s your goal in your career as an actor?

HAWKE:  To hold the mirror, as it were, up to nature. [LAUGHTER] No.  My goal is to tell good stories, you know.  And to try as best I can to do something new with acting.  You know to learn from the past and to be a relevant artist, right?  To make stories that are interesting and contemporary to now and to tell some kind of emotional truth.  That always interests me.  And what was the first part of your question?

Q:  How do you pick your roles?

HAWKE:  Oh, yeah.  That’s the hardest thing.  That is the absolute thing that nobody can teach you and is very, very difficult.  And ultimately, of course, you have to follow your heart and do jobs that really speak to you.  But sometimes in the life of an actor you’re not getting offered any jobs that speak to you.  You know the trouble with acting is that you’re only as good as your opportunities.  You know if Rick-I’m so happy to be a part of Boyhood and be a part of this elaborate experiment.  And I was onboard and I loved it and I got it.  But you know I wasn’t going to do it.  You know I needed Rick.  He’s got the patience and the fortitude and… [OVERLAP]

GALLOWAY:  What do you mean you weren’t going to do it?

HAWKE:  I wasn’t going to make that movie on my own, you know.  I wouldn’t have made the sequel to Before Sunrise.  I mean I loved writing it.  I loved acting it.  It’s as embedded in the-there is a part of me in that celluloid.  And you know that’s what Kazan used to say is the goal of a-when a performance is really great there is a part of the actor in the celluloid.  There is a part of the director in the celluloid.  You know you watch On the Waterfront.  There is a reason why that performance is so famous.  That means something to those people.  It wasn’t just a movie.  There was something else going on in those frames, you know.  And that’s what I aspire for in everything I do.  And with Linklater it’s easier because he’s after the same goal, you know.  But Training Day, the same thing, you know Denzel’s putting something personal at stake there.  It meant a lot to him you know to play-the NAACP came to the set and said, “What are you doing?”  And you know I never had a political organization talk to me about what roles I pick.  And Denzel, I remember him saying, “What, Al Pacino can play a bad guy.  Gene Hackman can play a bad guy.  I can’t play a bad guy?  I’m an artist.  That’s how I lead, not by being some dubious role model by only playing squeaky clean people.  I’ll be a role model by being great at my job.”  You know now that is impressive to me obviously.  But it’s not really to the point of your question.  But how I pick my roles is very-there’s moments that it’s easy when good parts are coming your way and you can kind of pick between lots of good projects.  And I’m always jealous, you know like you see, oh Russell Crowe’s in seven movies in a row.  Seven years in a row or something he’s got movies nominated for Best Picture.  Well, he’s smart and he’s got the pick of the litter, you know.  It’s harder when you’re just a struggling actor and you got to decide between an episode of Matlock and an episode of CSI, you know because there is two different things.  Sometimes you just have to take what’s given to you and just do the best you can with it and try to bring some.  You know look at Vincent D’Onofrio on Criminal Intent.  He’s doing a real performance inside of a half an hour’s you know little crime show.  That’s hard, you know.  That’s really hard.  And so it’s very hard but it has to do with you and your own makeup and what’s going to thrill you to be on set.  That’s what I just try to do.  It’s like 3:00 AM, the alarm goes off, do I want to jump up and go tell this story?  Or would I be proud of myself if I was sitting here and all of you guys are watching it?

GALLOWAY:  Next question and we’ll wrap up.

Q:  Hi, I’m Sarah.  Thank you so much for being here.  I’m a screenwriting major.  I received an email from you last week on behalf of the New Group.

HAWKE:  Oh, wow.

Q:  So I just…

HAWKE:  My wife wrote it.

Q:  You what?

HAWKE:  No, I was just kidding. [LAUGHTER]

Q:  Oh. [LAUGHTER]

HAWKE:  The New Group is a theater company in New York of which I’m on the Board and a member of.  And it means a lot to me and I sent out an email to raise money.  That’s the letter she’s referring to.

Q:  And it was great because you talked about how some of your best memories as an actor, and a director, and audience member have been with the Group.  And as someone who you’re in film, you’re onstage, you’re acting, you’re writing, directing; when you were our age did you aspire to do all of that or was acting kind of your main goal?  How did you get to kind of doing everything?

HAWKE:  I didn’t know.  You know everything in hindsight always seems so inevitable.  But I really didn’t know.  I really wanted to be a writer.  That’s what I thought.  I wrote short stories in high school.  And I-my mother wanted me to be a writer.  I think she probably named me-you know there’s a Herman Wouk novel called Youngblood Hawke.  And sometimes I think she fell in love with my Dad just because she liked that novel.  And she liked Hawke Frome and kind of put them together and thought that sounded like a novelist, you know.  And so she’s always been a little disappointed by this whole acting jag.

GALLOWAY:  Is the Tennessee Williams connection on her side or your father’s?

HAWKE:  My Dad’s side.

GALLOWAY:  And he’s your great-great-uncle?

HAWKE:  Uh-huh.

GALLOWAY:  Did you ever meet him?

HAWKE:  No, no.  Yeah, you know when he was alive-you know he died when I was about 13 and just at the time I was starting acting.  He was always the funny uncle, you know what I mean. [MAKES NOISE] He lives an alternative lifestyle my grandmother would say.  And but what were we talking about?

Q:  Just everything; acting and directing.

HAWKE:  Oh, yeah.  I don’t know.

GALLOWAY:  You wanted to write.

HAWKE:  Oh, yeah.  I wanted to write. I liked acting but I was worried about it because it’s hard.  It’s hard when you’re only as good as your opportunity.  I was always jealous of musicians who could sit around and practice the guitar.  You know even if the albums don’t get released they can make an album.  Acting is strange that way and you know if you don’t get to play with good people it’s hard.  But ultimately what it was is the success of Dead Poets Society generated an inertia in my life that kind of made up my mind for me.  I started getting job offers acting and even after that I tried to start a theater company.  I still tried to write a novel.  I was always sure -- I had a lot of fear that I was going to be one of those washed-up teen actors.  And I just didn’t want to be you know, some drug casualty or somebody who lost their interest.  And I knew that if I wrote and I did other things I would have something.  I mean look, let’s face it, even now, I’m 44, and as I get older you know being a movie star is a young person’s game.  And you’ve got to create an avenue for yourself to grow into, you know.  And now, yes, acting is-there is a lot of room for growth.  I mean look at Christopher Plummer, look at-I mean these are great, great actors.  But making your livelihood as a leading man gets more and more difficult.  And so I’ve wanted to live my life in such a way to make it easier for me to, so when I come to want to direct I’ve actually-I already have some experience at it.  You know I’ve directed a handful of movies and a bunch of plays.  And so it was never a conscious decision.  I almost feel for a lot of us life happens to us.  You know doors open and you just decide to go in or you decide it doesn’t-it seems cold in there.  I’m not going in there.  And then dominoes start falling left and right.

GALLOWAY:  Hawke, thank you so much.  Some of this work is just wonderful.

HAWKE:  And the rest of it, not so good? [LAUGHTER]

GALLOWAY:  What’s wrong with that?

HAWKE:  Well, it just…

GALLOWAY:  It’s kind of a miracle.

HAWKE:  Yeah, yeah.

GALLOWAY:  You’ve got a pretty good batting average.

HAWKE:  Well, that’s nice.

GALLOWAY:  Thanks so much.

HAWKE:  Thank you.A full transcript of Ethan Hawke's The Hollywood Masters interview follows.

 

GALLOWAY: Welcome to The Hollywood Masters, filmed on the campus of Loyola Marymount University. I think you all know our guest today, he’s really a genuine artist, and I think a lot of people in Hollywood, unfortunately you can’t say that of.  He’s a writer, a director, and of course an actor, he’s already put together an extraordinary body of work that includes Dead Poet’s Society, The Before Sunrise series, most recently, which I just love for those of you who haven’t seen it, you must see it.  He’s also directing an incredible documentary, and I’m going to show you a clip a bit later on.  So, I’m really delighted to welcome Ethan Hawke.

HAWKE:  Thanks for having me, thank you.  Yeah, yeah.  Hello everyone. 

GALLOWAY:  Where does the name Hawke come from? 

HAWKE:  Cornwall?  They were hawkers you know, like falconers.  Ornithologists, and obviously religious runaways that came to Nantucket.  And then worked their way to Ohio as tenant farmers.  And then after World War II, they were pretty religious family and so my grandfather refused to fight in the World War II but he built airplanes and air conditioners and things.  He didn’t want to kill anybody, and so after the war was over, he moved to Lennox, you just thought it was a little question.  I might talk all hour and a half about this.  The history of the Hawkes, from Cornwall, Connecticut.  No, anyway, and so then they settled in Texas, and then that’s where I was born. 

GALLOWAY:  The grandfather was English?

HAWKE:  No, no, God no.  We’re like five generation Americans or something.

GALLOWAY:  What prompted you to find that out?

HAWKE:  I feel like you’re gonna take me down the most boring answer in the whole world, but I’ll tell you, I wrote a little young adult novel, for my kids, and someday I hope to publish it.  But I wrote it for them, and it’s about, it’s called The Last Letter of Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawke.  And it’s this guy who’s riding out to battle, he’s gonna fight the Thane of Cawdor, you know, which is Macbeth.  And he knows he’s gonna die, he’s worried he’s gonna die.  And so he wants to leave a few tenants, principles, for them to carry on without him.  Should he not return from this battle.  And it was pretty cool, and it took me down the rabbit hole of studying Cornwall, and imagining, part of it has to do with the fact that as a parent, you’re forced to do something that I’d never really thought about before, which is have rules, and [it's] funny, ‘cause I always hated rules.  Right? Everybody hates rules.  And but yet somehow kids need them, they even need to be against them, and I was trying to figure out what rules I believed in.  And I tried to give something about of how to develop a spiritual life without talking about god, which is a little riddle into itself.  But it was a challenge, and my wife did the drawings for it and it was really fun, and I learned a lot about Cornwall.  And someday we can go to Plint Barrow together and have a pint.

GALLOWAY:  Which rules do you believe in?

HAWKE:  I have totally hitched my wagon to the horse of storytelling, and the idea that none of us know why we’re born, or why we’re gonna die, or what we’re planted here, or what’s on the other side of the galaxy, or when time began, or when time end.  The whole nature of reality is pretty up for grabs, really.  And I kind of feel that the idea of sharing with each other and telling stories to each other, making sense out of our lives, because we all look through life through this tiny little keyhole, you know, we have this tiny little perspective of our parents, and the world that we grew up in, and that’s the only one we feel intimately.  But the more you read, you know, the more stories you hear, the more songs you heard sung of this thing and this thing, and in an ideal world...Pauline Kael said about movies, when a movie really hits you and the lights are down, you realize you’re actually not alone.  And that you’re actually not ashamed of yourselves and you’re not, you know, we all have this thing that we’re harboring these secret hurts that nobody else has.  And in fact, all of us are some deep powerful wounds, some not so.  See, but all of us have our own issues, and I think, I believe in the healing restorative power of art and communication.  And so that’s probably my rule.  But that doesn’t apply to bedtimes.  And stuff like that.

GALLOWAY:  At a certain point you let go of those hurts?

HAWKE:  Absolutely.  And I think that it…

GALLOWAY:  Have you and if so, when did you?

HAWKE:  Such an interesting question.  I have a friend who lost a sibling to drug addiction and he’s 40, and he’s at the hospital, and this other sister was there, and she’s a relapsing addict, and his mother was a kind of a disaster and the father wasn’t around and he was talking to me.  He left me this really long message about, it was time to have his own family.  That if he kept using the same roadmap he’d had as a young person, to survive, the same rules, he was gonna stay in the same place.  You know, these rules, these things that he’d done, his emotional tricks, or ways that he navigated his life, they worked as a young person.  But they actually weren’t gonna work for the second half of his life and he could kind of see it clearly, that it, there has to be a way to love these people, and not be trapped by them.  And that I think if you nurse your wounds too much, they start to become your identity.  And one of the things that was very powerful for me was the value of friendship.  Real friendship.  You know I’ve had a lot of good friends, who I feel kind of in a way saved my life, and one was the playwright Jonathan Marc Sherman, and the other was a filmmaker, Richard Linklater, both of whom I was lucky enough to meet really young, and they’re both people, Jonathan lost his mother very young to suicide and Rick has his own, you know, stuff he’s working through, and but they both never complained. 

They didn’t ever complain and they never had a hard word to say about anybody else.  There’s this whole kind of prevailing attitude in the arts that you know, f--k this person, f--k that, I’m in this pain, that somehow out of this pain, you’re going to unearth your real self.  And the missed idea there is that your real self is already there.  It doesn’t need to be unearthed.  You know, often times people think for example that self-laceration makes them better.  I have a lot of friends who are actors and stuff, and they beat themselves up mercilessly, and they think that that makes them good.  And they don’t realize that they’re good despite that laceration.  That their talent is actually not fragile.  That their talent is kind of the essence of who they are and it’s actually shining through.  You know, like Robin Williams used to talk about that  he thought the cocaine made him funny.  He didn’t realize he was funny despite the cocaine.  And the cocaine was actually an obstacle, and he was perceiving it because it alleviated some self-worth issues. 

GALLOWAY:  Did you talk to him about that?

HAWKE:  No, not close like that, like, but he’s a very open person that was close to a tremendous amount of people.  I got close to him in that I got to act with him.  And I got to experience.  Sometimes people save the best part of themselves for their art.  That’s not entirely uncommon.

GALLOWAY:  Do you?

HAWKE:  I try not to.  I always think that in a perfect scenario, which why not chase that, right.  That your development as a person should coincide with your development in all aspects of your life.  You know, and it’s hard to do.  But the documentary you know, I made this documentary.

GALLOWAY:  Isn’t it the opposite?

HAWKE:  He doesn’t want to talk about the documentary.

GALLOWAY:  I do, but I was watching Much Ado About Nothing.

HAWKE:  What, oh yeah.  His film version of it?

GALLOWAY:  Yeah.

HAWKE:  Yeah, you weren’t seeing him yeah, okay. 

GALLOWAY:  I was thinking what horrible anguish must Shakespeare have been in when he wrote Hamlet and Lear and MacbethJohn Cleese said that after getting rid of his depression that his work is not so good. 

HAWKE:  That’s true for him I guess.  You know, some people believe that.  For me, that’s depressing.  You know, that the idea, I think perhaps his drive is less, maybe, I might say.  That you know, sometimes people, their creative drive comes from an energy to try to heal themselves.  That is true for me.  You know, and that maybe your ambition recedes a little bit, as you grow to like yourself.  You know, 'cause you don’t need other people to affirm that you’re a valuable person.  But I have met a great many artist who are very wise and very serious and are having a good time.

GALLOWAY:  Name one of those artists.

HAWKE:  Richard Linklater.  I mean, let’s not talk in airy, fairy land about people we don’t even know.  I’ll talk about people I know.  Tom Stoppard, he’s a card carrying genius.  And the guy’s awesome to be around.  He’s an inspiration to be around.  He’s in his 70s, he’s writing his best work.  You know, and if you really think about it, if you take out self-destruction, I mean if as talking to young people, there’s something that Rick said to me when I was about 23, ‘cause River [Phoenix]had just died.  And he said, you know, if you take out self-destruction, if you actually eliminate that.  If you say to yourself, okay, I will not self-destruct.  Anything can happen.  I don’t have to be the most talented person.  I don’t have to be everybody’s best friend, I don’t have to be liked, I don’t have to be successful, well, one thing I will not do is self-destruct.  If you take that out, your chances for success just went up like 800 percent.  You know, half a life is you know, what’s the Woody Allen line, just show up.  And you know what’s mysterious is that sounds funny when you’re young, and as you get older, it’s hard.  Just showing up is hard.  Over and over again.  It’s hard.  I remember, I remember forgive me if this is out of turn, but you know, like I was on the set of Training Day with Denzel Washington, the guy was having a ball.  Doing some of the best work in his life, he’s having a ball. I remember him once saying to me how depressed he was after Malcolm X didn’t win the Oscar, I remember having no understanding for why.  I mean, you made Malcolm X, who cares what prize it wins?  I’d do anything to make something that good.  You know, and now as you get older, you know, you feel, it gets tiring.  I mean, I think part of one thing you don’t know as a young person is in school, you have a huge resource which is energy and idealism that as somebody who’s 44, I like being near it.  I look forward to coming here today, to feel what a room full of young people are thinking about and worrying about and, 'cause I imagine I’m just projecting now, but I imagine if Denzel didn’t win for Malcolm X, just the exhaustion you feel.  If this, what am I going to do that’s going to be better than this?  You know, so is this the end of, is this the wall of my gift, so to speak.  You know.

GALLOWAY:  When you started acting, what was going through your mind and what were your ambitions?  Let’s look at a clip from Dead Poet’s Society.

[MOVIE CLIP]

[APPLAUSE]

GALLOWAY:  How do you feel when you see that?

HAWKE:  Well what they cut out there is he says, don’t you forget this.  And for me, it’s one of these examples of how people think the past if finished you know, and the past isn’t finished, the past keeps changing.  Watching that quote, that clip this year is different than watching it four years ago.  ‘Cause it’s infused with Robin’s passing.  You know, and that for me, that is the first time in my life I ever acted you know, that scene.  I had performed before, I’d done a play, I’d even acted in another movie and but you know, we live in a, everybody loves to kind of deify the personality of the actor, you know, whether it’s Jack Nicholson, or Sean Penn or whoever is kind of like you know, insert your favorite actor here.  And yet the absolute joy and beauty of acting lies in the absence of personality, is the fact that you can disappear, the fact that you can wear someone else’s clothes, or speak in a different way than you were taught to, and still you are you.  You know, which gets at something that is extremely interesting about what is the essence of who we are, you know, if you weren’t British, if I weren’t born in Texas, you could’ve been.

GALLOWAY:  I was watching an interview you did with Julie Delpy and you said that she didn’t like you when you met because you were so American.  Are you Texan or not?

HAWKE:  Oh, I don’t know. 

GALLOWAY:  How old were you when you left Texas?

HAWKE:  Well I’m a little distracted because I didn’t, I wanted to tell you, I was eight, but I wanted to tell you that Robin got me my first agent, and that whole thing was a very, that scene was incredibly powerful, I’d never had the experience before of losing my identity.  And that Peter [Weir] was shooting these long takes.  And it was really, really beautiful, and so you know, when Robin just grabbed me and said, "Remember this," for me it was extremely meta, you know.  Because I’ve been chasing that moment my whole life.  You know, I mean that was acting, you know, and I’ve had it only a handful of times since, it’s just this thing that happens where you don’t even remember how it goes.  And that’s always the goal, is like getting away from yourself, and feeling yourself in service of a metaphor, ‘cause if you’re inside a metaphor, then it has meaning beyond yourself, you know, and that’s a very exciting feeling, but that’s what I, it was on the tip of tongue and I wouldn’t, OCD, you’re not going to be able to keep talking if I didn’t say it.  But you asked me when I left Texas, do I think of myself as a Texan?  Well next to Julie Delpy, everyone is a Texan.  Meaning, you know, she is extremely European, I mean when I met this young woman, she’d already worked with Godard, she worked with Kieslowski, she’d worked with Volker Schlondorff, she was like a character out of a novel.  I’d never met anyone that was my own generation that was that smart and that wild and that I mean, I don’t how many of you have read Georges Bataille, The Story of the Eye, but in the beginning of the book, movie, before sunrise, that’s the book she gives me, and she had given me that book in real life, and let me tell you, by your response I can tell not many of you have read it.

GALLOWAY:  Maybe zero.

HAWKE:  And this is a very, very f---ed up book, okay, and I remember reading it, you know it’s like when somebody gives you a mixtape or something, and you kind of are looking for personal meanings inside the song, she gave me this book, I’m like, this book is some very disgusting things happen with this eyeball socket, okay.  So I’ll say no more, let your imagination do the work.  Anyway, she was a lot for me, you know, I’d never met anybody that radical in their thinking.  Now Rick was different, you know, Rick has this uncanny wisdom about him, and an ability to actually listen to other people.  He really likes people, and he’s really interested in what you have to say, and what he could possibly learn from you and it’s very relaxing to be around.  And it fills other people up with confidence.  There’s a great many directors like to wow you with their vision.  This is how it’s going to be.  They dictate, you know, they’re dictatorial, right, about how the frame should be, how the light should hit the thing, and Rick is much more Zen than that.  He’s interested in us all having a vision.  And for the movie to have a collective wisdom, and he doesn’t feel the need to hyperbolize life, which is incredibly…

HAWKE:  …exciting, I really related to that, so these are these two, and let me also say, he’s one of the most educated people about art, the two of them were a real slap in the face for me in 1993, in Vienna. 

GALLOWAY:  Were you intimidated by the people you work with?

HAWKE:  I was intimidated by both of them, for sure.  I’m intimidated by everybody.  I mean, everybody likes this posture of strength, you know, this posture that it’s such a badge of courage that you’re not intimidated, in a way, I think so many people don’t really listen to anybody else.  And if you really try to absorb other people, then it’s easy to be intimidated.  Hey, everybody’s got a lot going on, look out into here.  It’s very intimidating.

GALLOWAY:  Who’s most intimidated you that you worked with or met?

HAWKE:  Stoppard.

GALLOWAY:  Do you guys all know who he is? 

HAWKE:  Tom Stoppard is, has a, what do you call, an intellect that is very, I’ll give you an example.  Tom forgive me.  But so after one, a preview performance of Coast of Utopia, I was doing this nine hour play, all right, about mid-19th century Russian radicals.  It’s a very, very intense play.  Very difficult play, in the end of act one, end with the line of, well that won’t do, was my line.  And Tom came up to me, maybe it was not act one, it was like scene four or something like that, but it doesn’t matter.  And he said, is it well, that won’t do?  Or is it, well that won’t do?  I said, geez Tom.  I don’t know.  Let me go look.  And I went to the script and looked and I came back to him and I said, oh Tom, you know what it is, it’s well, that won’t do.  He said, yes I know.  [LAUGH]  And here’s the funny thing, the punchline to the story is, the next night, well, that won’t do.  Huge laugh, that I hadn’t been getting.  And I realize, wow, this guy understands the architecture of his own play.  And the way that it is built.  You know, I remember like, once, there’s a kind of famous production of him seeing, having a director give his, you know, kind of welcome speech to the cast.  I wasn’t there for this, this is hearsay.  And Tom said, well it seems there are two ways to approach this play, and you are taking the other.  [LAUGH]  You know, and so.

GALLOWAY:  That’s a great line.

HAWKE:  Yeah.  He’s incredibly smart, incredibly wise, and gifted and it’s fun to be with people who know a lot more than you do.  You know, some people who show you, oh wait there’s a reason it’d be fun to be 80.  You know, if you could keep participating and keep learning, you know. 

GALLOWAY:  Linklater has been a creative relation for you.  Let’s look at Before Sunrise, the first of the three.

HAWKE:  I’m so excited to see what clip you picked.  Don’t tell me.

GALLOWAY:  Our producer picked the clips.

HAWKE:  Okay.  All right, so you're not, abnegating responsibility.  Okay.

GALLOWAY:  We discussed it. 

[MOVIE CLIP]

GALLOWAY:  Did we pick the right clip?

HAWKE:  Yeah, you did, I’m glad you picked that one.  Because it’s, that’ll give you an example, that’s Julie and I’s dynamic.  Julie kept saying, I would never get off the train with you.  You know, and so we’d do these rehearsal processes where I would have to try to figure out what it would take you know, we would do these like kind of improvs, and I’d be, hey come on baby, we’ll get ice cream.  She’d be like, oh my God.  I’d kill myself.  Okay.  Hey baby, you wanna ride the Ferris wheel.  [SNORE]  What a teenager.  You know, and so with prompts from her, about what it would take to wow her.  You would have to be smart, it would have to show me that you are thinking about me, it would have to show me, she had all these kind of rules, and finally, I came up with an idea that would get her off the train.

GALLOWAY:  How much of this was written and how much was improvised?

HAWKE:  Oh, everything’s written, but it’s the way Rick works, it’s very for some, people love to think it’s improvisation, we never go to the set to improv, never.  And almost never, but, and, but what will happen is we’d sit, we sat in a room for a month, and you know, Rick had a very kind of clear structure of okay, they meet on a train, they talk for 20 minutes, they have some kind of bonding, some kind of connection, he talks her into getting off the train, they go for a walk, the Ferris wheel at Sunset will be their first kiss, then they’ll go have coffee, then they’ll be the best scene in the movie, and then that’s kind of how he writes it out.  I remember, T-B, you know, S-I-M, the best scene in a movie.  That’s scene number eight.  Best scene in the movie, he’s like, it has to go to a whole nother level.  But he didn’t even what that was gonna be.  I mean it’s a super Zen approach to screenwriting which is exasperating to financers.  But.

GALLOWAY:  What was it to you when you met him? 

HAWKE:  Well, I had started a theater company with my aforementioned friend John Marc Sherman, and we were doing one of his plays, and Anthony Rapp, who was in Dazed and Confused, was in the play, and so Linklater came to see Anthony Rapp in this play, and we all went and hung out.  And we got along pretty thick as thieves and he told me all about this movie, it was originally when he first talked about it, it was supposed to take place in San Antonio, I remember, it was, he wasn’t sure whether it should be like French dude who meets a girl from Texas, you know what I mean, there were a lot of variations of how the movie could’ve been manifest.  But yeah, we talked all about it, and he sent me the script and I thought he was offering me the movie, and I had a lot of notes about it.  But then in fact he wasn’t offering me the movie, he wanted me to audition and so I put my notes away, went and auditioned, then he offered me the movie.  And I said, well, I’m not sure I want to do it.  And so, and he wrote me an incredibly beautiful letter that I still have about, ‘cause I was, I had a lot of concerns about the script, and if he were here, I would say this.  I mean, there was, I had a long monologue, I mean, I’m talking long, like four pages long, about why John Huston’s The Dead is the greatest last movie ever made in the history of cinema.  And while I agree with the sentiment, I didn’t think it made for good drama.  You know, and-.

GALLOWAY:  If you get the chance, it’s a great film.

HAWKE:  It is a great film, but that’s, [OVERLAP] I know, but that was one of.  That was what I was supposed to do to woo her to get off the train or something, you know, and I was like that’s not.  But anyway, he wrote me this letter saying look, I’ve never been in a helicopter crash, I’ve never been involved in any kind of espionage, I’ve never been involved in any kind of gun play.  And my life feels like it’s full of drama.  And the most significant thing that ever happened to me in my life was the feeling I’ve had when I really connect with another human being.  And I really am giving myself the challenge to make a movie about that.  And so I what I need is two people who want to make that movie and then we’ll just make it together, don’t worry about the script, we’ll, it’ll be what you want it to be. 

GALLOWAY:  How do you achieve that level of naturalism in your acting?

HAWKE:  Well, rehearsal.  That’s the great myth, nobody ever wants to work hard.  You know, everybody wants, you know, this whole, you’ll see it in the documentary, and you’ll see more of this Bernstein, this piano teacher I love, talks about the kind of American talent myth.  The idea that we’re born with you know, we’re either Marlon Brando, or you’re not.  You’re either Bob Dylan or you’re not.  You’re either, you know, it’s easy, in the film industry, it’s terrible, it’s really easy sometimes for first time directors to get their movie made because we all believe in this kind of Orson Welles mythology.  Ew, maybe he’s gonna be Orson Wells.  But you actually, it’s hard, somebody like Linklater’s made 19 movies.  You kind of know what you’re gonna get.  You’re gonna get a Richard Linklater film.  You know, and or John Sayles film, or a, you know, whatever it is.  And people want this magic myth, you know, regular ordinary, hard work is not enough for some people.  And the way you get this level of naturalism in Boyhood, or the Before Trilogy, we’re really building on something Stanislavsky and Chekhov started talking about a long time ago.  And Lee Strasberg picked up, it’s rehearsal and living and embodying your character in a way that you’re actually seeing the world through their perspective.  And if a collective can do that, then you have this kind of, then this thing happens, where real life happens.  And I’ll give you an example where once on Before Sunset, I was doing a scene and I was really moved by something Julie was saying, kind of maybe teared up a little bit or something like that.  And Rick said, what are you doing?  He was like, it seems like you’re like really upset about this or something.  I’m like, yeah.  He’s like, not now.  You’re still trying to seduce her.  Like, I get that you’re moved, and I’m moved too, but if you start acting, then we’ll realize there’s no plot, and if we realize there’s no plot, the movie will totally breakdown.  You would get misty-eyed thinking about this, later.  But in the moment, just watch her.  I’m like, yeah, you’re right.  And every other director I’ve ever had in my life would get so excited by any displays of emotions and stuff.  And Rick’s, Rick likes, he enjoys life as it is.  Doesn’t need any unnecessary.

GALLOWAY:  These films are so unconventional in structure. 

HAWKE:  We’ve been kicked out of every decent screenwriting class in the world, yeah. 

GALLOWAY:  Right.  There is no protagonist, antagonist. 

HAWKE:  We don’t have an event at the 20 page mark. 

GALLOWAY:  There is not that much suspense.  Were you nervous about that going into it?

HAWKE:  Well it’s why I went into it.  I mean, you know, Rick has this thing he likes to say that I just love, that you know, the movies, is still the Wild West.  I mean this form is so young.  I mean, people are conditioned to just you know, like, you know we’re like little birdies going to the bird feeder you know, or the little cows going to the salt lick.  We just like what we’ve seen before.  But the medium is wide open, if we can open our brains.  And there will be likeminded people that will go there with us, you know, as soon as people, there’s a great scene in Dead Poet’s Society where they try to measure Dr. G.H. Pritchett and Robin has this rip him out, and I always think about that, you know, the, a poem must have emotional scale and this and a rhyming meter, there’s no rules to cinema.  It’s wide open.  And the question is can you make something that has something to say?  You know, and I intuited from Rick that this idea of a lack of drama, there’s a great many, it was gonna be beautiful to me, a lot of movies that I love end up making me feel like shit about my own life.  You know, like you, oh gGd, my girlfriend’s not that pretty or you know, how come I’ve never seen anything interesting like that?  Or, I never kissed anybody in the rain.  Or, you know, how come you know, how come you know, Laurence Fishburne didn’t tell me my life was a computer program.  I mean, we all long for this stuff, you know.  I remember walking out of that movie, what’s the blue people movie, I remember walking out, I was so depressed after that movie, it might as well have been Fanny and Alexander to me.  I was like, and my wife was, what’s the problem?  And you’re just like, I want to meet blue people.  I want to have sex with a blue person.  I mean it just looks awesome.  You know, and it’s never gonna happen.  And what I love about Rick’s movies is it makes you want to be in your own life, your life’s more interesting than that.  I mean, you know, and that’s kind of the prevailing philosophy.  Which people, see, people find this so pretentious, and I don’t know why I don’t, but I don’t find it pretentious, but I know other people do, but that’s what Chekhov was going after.  And the reason why I, why Rick and I, I, my whole life as an actor, have been aspiring.  I love that idea of putting real life on screen.  And that, and the enemy to putting real life on screen is plot.  ‘Cause our life doesn’t have a plot, we’re living our life right now, but this day has no plot, it has no beginning, middle and end.  Your relationship with your dad, I promise you is gonna change even after your dad passes.  You know, it doesn’t have a beginning, middle and an end in a way that you know, it’s a lie, but it’s a lie that the audience wants.  And Rick, he’s found a way to penetrate that.  And what happens is it allows you to be a human being on film.  It’s really exciting.  And it allows.

GALLOWAY:  When you came to write the sequels, how did it come up and what gives it structure in your mind?

HAWKE:  Well we’ve replaced plot with time.  That there’s an energy that before sunset has for example, for anybody that’s interested but, simply that we’re nine years older.  There’s, or Boyhood is another example.  That there’s no plot to Boyhood, but time.  You know, the fact that time is happening creates this feeling of impending doom.  You know, it’s the, Hitchcock said, you know, the gun’s got to go off, or the you know, somebody’s got to get killed, and if, well time is this real force that is pulling us all.  And when you see it, and in the Before Trilogy, time is the main character as well.  What is gonna, what happens to romantic love with time?  Pummeling of the waves, you know.  And so that’s what gives it its tiny bit of, it’s just enough of a hook to keep you on.

GALLOWAY:  When you did the first one, did you have any idea you would do a sequel?

HAWKE:  Oh, God no.  God no. 

GALLOWAY:  At this stage in your life you’ve done Dead Poets, Gattaca, the Before series.  How did that feel being an actor, pre Training Day?

HAWKE:  Training Day was the first time I was washed up.  You know, before it.  You know, it’s funny, I would go, I would try to get seen for movies and I was kind of famous so, people, they’re like, oh no, I know him.  Not him.  And so it was, and there was this whole other crop of actors that were, had just graduated college, and were just, they were 28, coming into their own, 29.  And I was really envious of a lot of these people because they were fully formed before they had to kind of withstand the you know, machinations of corporate America and the Hollywood movie industry, and I was passé, you know.  I was that the kid from Dead Poet’s Society that didn’t really amount to much.  You know, now that’s the way it was, I felt you know, or people could make you to feel.  Now obviously, I didn’t feel that way about myself.  You know.  I didn’t.  No, I was doing really interesting work on stage, in, and I can tell you this, with a 100 percent certainty, that the most creative and most periods of my life that were, had the most growth, were the ones where I was perceived to be failing.  You know.  Perceived success is a, is really hard ‘cause it doesn’t really, it’s not asking you to grow, see failure is asking you to grow.  And I’ll give you an example, you know, I remember doing a Sam Shepard play in Chicago, and I got terrible reviews.  And it really hurt, ‘cause I [always?] worked hard on it, and the play meant a lot to me.  And then I don’t now, ten years later, I directed a Sam Shepard play, and I got great reviews.  Just you know, unbelievable, great reviews.  And I remember thinking, god ain’t that weird.  Everybody hated the other one I did, but this one wouldn’t have existed without that one.  You know, and you start to see your life as this weird spider web which is a, you kind of just go from here to there, and kind of seems like you’re not doing anything.  And then 25 years go by, and there’s a little web behind you.  And things that seem like a waste of time of why you went over there, well actually, that was a whole support system for something else that you needed.  And one of the things that we need is failure.  Humility.  Friends.  You know, and nothing breeds friends like failure, success isolates you from your friends.  You know, and the great thing, I always try to tell people, the great, like you know, Rick’s nominated for best director, and he’s my friend, I think well the good news is, if you lose, everybody will like you.  And say, damn he should’ve won.  And if you win, everybody will hate you, but at least you won.  So it’s kind of win-win.  You know, and that’s how life works. 

GALLOWAY:  Did you feel humiliated in failure?

HAWKE:  Humiliated is too strong a word.  What’s the Eleanor Roosevelt line, nobody can make you feel humiliated.  You know, to hell with that.  I felt disappointed, I felt I had something to offer and I wasn’t being able to do it.  That’s different than being humiliated.  I felt like I want to be in the game, coach.  You know, like that kind of thing.  But I’ve had many periods like that, in my life.  You know, but that’s the, that’s a trajectory of any kind of long, there’s some people obviously who are so amazing they don’t do mediocre work and so they just kind of you know, whether it’s Paul McCartney or Daniel Day-Lewis, or whoever you want to point to, these people who are operating in a very high level all the time.  And that must be very exciting. 

GALLOWAY:  Are you a fair judge of your own work?

HAWKE:  I should probably be a lot more critical. 

GALLOWAY:  Let’s take a look at a Training Day clip.

[MOVIE CLIP] 

[APPLAUSE]

GALLOWAY:  Did we choose the right scene?

HAWKE:  I like this whole movie.  If I’m allowed to say that? 

GALLOWAY:  Why?

HAWKE:  Because when I was younger, Denzel Washington was my favorite actor.  You know, I remember I saw him in St. Elsewhere and stuff, and that was okay, but I remember seeing Cry Freedom, and being like, who is this person?  And then I just kind of watched everything that he did, and there’s very few people who are genuine movie starts who can really act in a way that I find just mesmerizing.  There’s a spontaneity and a depth to him, obviously he’s transcended all kinds of racial barriers that I never even had to consider.  And so, you can’t over, you can’t give this stuff too much credence, you know, he’s just an actor, but so I really enjoyed having the opportunity to work with him on a part that was so challenging to him.

GALLOWAY:  Was he easy to work with?

HAWKE:  You know being easy to work with; I wouldn’t say that any of the best people I’ve worked with are easy to work with.  I mean easy is really not very interesting.  Julie Delpy’s not easy to work with.  Denzel’s not easy.  Robert De Niro’s not easy to work with.  Richard Linklater’s not easy to work with, you know.  I would be-you could never achieve the level of success that he has if he was easy to work with.  Most people, including myself, you know are pretty accepting of mediocrity, you know.  It’s funny as I watch-as I find myself getting older I realize that part of my job now is to help the younger people around me be better at their job.  And I never thought of that before.  But Denzel, don’t fuck with him, man; you know, come to the set with some sloppy work.  I loved it.  I love somebody set the bar high for crying out loud, you know.  I mean everybody just is so complacent, you know it’s like they’re waiting for Martin Scorsese to show up to give them permission to do great work.  Why not do it now?  Why not do it with your friends, you know? 

GALLOWAY:  How did that movie come about?

HAWKE:  Training Day?  Denzel and Antoine Fuqua really wanted me.  The studio didn’t want me.  I mean they like to tell the story.  But it was obviously a great opportunity that everybody wanted or a lot of more popular actors than me at that time that wanted it.  But Denzel really wanted somebody who could play with him, you know.  And he puts a high value on the theater.  And he was extremely interested in me for that part.  And so they came and I had to do a screen test.  And I did this test and Denzel went totally off book during my test.  And I walked out debating about whether to go back in and tell them all to go to hell because you know I felt like I had been sabotaged because we didn’t do anything that was on the page.  And I didn’t think that was fair because he had the part.  It’s easy to improvise when you’ve got the part, you know.  But then I was sitting outside.  I was in LA, I was sitting outside about to-I was thinking about going in and telling them to just go to hell.  And then I got the call saying yeah, they -- it went great, they want you.  I was like, “Oh, they did?  I love them.  They were amazing.” [LAUGHTER]

GALLOWAY:  What surprised you about him?

HAWKE:  About Denzel?  How hard he works, you know.  I mean you know I’d have to be in a-I mean I could tell you.  But it’s not some mystery to me why he’s in the place that he’s at and it’s very hard, you know.  It was a great Allen Ginsberg line about it’s pretty difficult to survive success or failure.  He was kind of equating Bob Dylan and Emily Dickinson.  The true-when you’re really gifted then you’re-what it is is you’re in touch with your own creativity.  And it actually doesn’t need anybody else’s patting you on the back and it won’t be destroyed by it.  But a lot of people are destroyed by their need to be loved or their lack of getting it, you know.  And it’s very difficult to work at the level that he has worked for as long.  And I don’t know if any of you have seen Flight, but I think it’s some of the-one of my just favorite performances.  It’s an incredible performance.  And but I lost what question did you ask me?

GALLOWAY:  Was there a lot of rehearsing?

HAWKE:  In this movie?

GALLOWAY:  Yeah.

HAWKE:  Every film I’ve ever been on has different-see theater rehearsal always used to work a set way.  Theater’s an ancient profession, it’s worked it.  Cinema is so new.  We rehearsed for this movie.  But a lot of my rehearsal for this movie was riding around undercover you know and getting-learning about it.  Denzel and I would meet these guys.  We’d ride around with them.  I did a bunch of ride-arounds on my own.  I was trying to figure out what the reality-this was at a time period when the CRASH units in LA were - there was a lot going on with that.  It was a part of the news.  It was really extremely interesting.

GALLOWAY:  Were you ever in any dangerous situations while driving with them?

HAWKE:  No.  Some other people were in danger but I wasn’t.  You know I mean they-I did some real police work.  I don’t know.  It was fascinating.

GALLOWAY:  What was fascinating about it?

HAWKE:  Oh, real life-how compromise.  It was really interesting to me.  This one cop I’ll give you an example of.  This cop I was talking to about how he got a tip from one of his informants that there was two kilos of cocaine underneath you know some dude’s green sofa, all right.  So we went in there-and got a warrant and he went in there and there it was two kilos of cocaine underneath this dude’s sofa.  Except it was quite clear to him; his whole understanding of humanity told him that this guy had no idea that cocaine was there.   And that this guy was being set up by somebody else that his informant was setting up this guy.  And this guy was a family and he wasn’t sure what the story was.  But he didn’t want to arrest this guy because his whole body told him this guy did not-this is not his cocaine.  So he took it and he put it in his trunk and he said he didn’t find anything.  Now he’s got two kilos of cocaine in the back of his trunks that he-is unreported.  What do you do with this?  Well, the first thing he did with it is he sold half of it for information about another crime.  And he found a dead body and he got a conviction by selling the thing.  And it started a path of breaking the law to-it just showed how gray the line was.  It was just a really great example.  He was saying that this is how he started breaking the law because it was all in the name of good.  But then you’re a cowboy.  And then you’re a rogue.  And you still got another kilo of coke.  And you start doing it and you’re dealing drugs.  And you’re getting busts, good arrests.  But you’re also dealing coke.  And it’s an interesting line about where-how the slope first gets slippery.

GALLOWAY:  What do you learn as a director from Antoine Fuqua and who has shaped you?

HAWKE:  Well, Antoine was an inspiration to me because he’s so visually arresting and exciting.  And at the same time he doesn’t-he’s a little bit more like Sidney Lumet in that he wants the movie to be about the characters, you know not about the great direction.  And I mean if you look at the scene we just watched it’s impeccably directed.  It’s so beautiful.  And it’s so easy to screw that stuff up.  And he had a smell for authenticity that great directors have and a smell for performance.  And he also doesn’t have a lot of ego.  A lot of the worst jobs I’ve ever done have from being over-directed; directors who want to be Elia Kazan so they get in there and they start telling you everything.  And all of a sudden you don’t know what you’re doing at all.  And Antoine was super smart.  He’d say, “Listen, I know that you know.”  Well, he said this to Denzel and I, “I want the acting to be as good as Dog Day Afternoon.  I want the acting to be as good as French Connection.  What do you need to have that happen?”  You know, “All right, well here’s what I need.  I need this.  I need this.”

GALLOWAY:  What did you say you need?

HAWKE:  It depends on the scene.  There’s no-if I knew the-we needed X amount of rehearsal.  I needed to believe myself in these situations.  Let’s actually shoot on location which is what Antoine really wanted.  He was like, “And we want a lot of two-shots.”  You know two-shots sell. The close-up has killed cinema you know because everybody loves to watch things on their iPod.  And the directors sit on the monitor and they just want to see, you know.  Sidney Lumet used to talk about that a lot, about how the close-up has been so overused it’s robbed it of its power.

GALLOWAY:  I think Seymour is beautifully directed.

HAWKE:  Thank you.

GALLOWAY:  What were the challenges for you going into the film?  Let’s watch a clip.

HAWKE:  This is always such a suspenseful moment. [LAUGHTER]

[MOVIE CLIP]

HAWKE:  Well, let me be very clear that I never set out to make a documentary.  It was never something I wanted to do.  It wasn’t on my wish list.  That’s a true story.  I was having a lot of issues at 40.  I’ve been acting professionally since I was 12.  I had my first like real bouts of stage fright that I just didn’t understand and I couldn’t make sense out of.  And I got invited to some dinner party that I didn’t want to go to and my wife made me go.  And I sat down next to this man and he just, “What’s bothering you?”  And I just told him.  You know it’s kind of-I just told him the truth because he seemed like he wanted to hear you know or he seemed not scary.  And I just learned more from him at this dinner about what was happening to me than I had from anybody in my own profession.  And I came home and I Googled this guy and tried to figure out who the hell he was.  And the more I read about him the more interested in him I became.  And I said to my wife, “Somebody needs to make a documentary about this guy.  Maybe Linklater could do it.  Who would make the thing?”  And she said, “Well, why don’t you do it?”  I was like, “I don’t have time to do this.”  And, “Well let’s-why don’t you write him and see if he’s interested?”  And it just started.  I just started filming him over a period of a couple years.  And then I-he hadn’t-what’s interesting about him is at the age of 50 he was a big-time concert pianist.  He played all over the world; London, Vienna, Paris.  He opened Lincoln Center.  And he just retired at 50.  He just stopped playing and dedicated the second half of his life to teaching.  And I got him to play again in front of people, yeah, which was fun for me.

GALLOWAY:  Why did you start getting stage fright?

HAWKE:  Well, maybe a little bit has to do with that Sarah Bernhardt story, you know.  That you start to realize that it is important.  There is this feeling you have when you’re young that oh, everything’s ahead of you, you know it’s all coming.  Then you kind of hit this wall where you realize all right there are a limited amount of opportunities.  And it really does matter what we do.  It really does matter how we carry ourselves.  I remember saying to Tom Stoppard once you know before this play, I was like, “God, I’m so nervous.”  And he said, “Well, you should be.  You’re the tip of the spear.  If you fail, we all fail.” [LAUGHTER] Jesus Christ and he’s right, God.  You know I hope I remember my lines.  And with a little bit of humility comes-you know the arrogance sometimes is a shield.  “By God, I’m going to be great.  I’m going to do it.  I’m going to be great.”  And it gives you confidence.  And with the right amount of humility your confidence can just totally falter.  But what Seymour would say is it’s the opening.  It’s the opening.  It’s the softening for you to do something really valuable.

GALLOWAY:  Do you still feel that stage fright?

HAWKE:  No.  I made this documentary in a lot of ways to work on it.  I mean it was really just pure and simple.  I wanted to make up a reason to spend more time with this person because you know as bad as actors have it pianists have it much worse; the anxiety.  I mean they’ll play Carnegie Hall.  And it’s one night.  And if they screw it up you know that will go on your permanent record.  You know what I mean?  It’s just over.  You know your left finger goes south, I mean that’s-they have it very intensely.  And so he was a great person to learn from on that front.  And my hope in making a documentary is a little bit Zen of me, the art of playing the piano, you know that if you play the piano the right way it relates in how to build the combustion engine the right way.  I mean everything is really built in the same principles.

GALLOWAY:  What got you over the stage fright?

HAWKE:  There’s no simple pithy remark that I can you know hand down from some dubious mountaintop... It’s what I mean to say-what the point of that Sarah Bernhardt is it’s a privilege to be nervous.  When you stop being ashamed of it it loses its power.  I would have-the idea that I would have even confessed to you five years ago that I felt this way I would have-it would be like admitting I was some you know child or something.  But if you alleviate the shame of it and go, “You know what, I am nervous because I do care.  This is important.  I’ve put a lot of thought into this.  I worked for years to get here and I could blow it.  But I’m not going to because I’m prepared.”  You know and then you kind of relax a little bit.  What’s the athletes always say?  That pressure’s a choice, you know.  And but sometimes you feel it come on and by pretending you don’t feel the pressure becomes-you get brittle, you know.  And by admitting you know Sarah Bernhardt’s-her hand’s shaking like a leaf because you know she knows it matters.

GALLOWAY:  Let’s look at a clip from Boyhood.

[MOVIE CLIP]

[APPLAUSE]

GALLOWAY:  What was the initial conversation with the director?

HAWKE:  It was awesome.  And I remember waiting for his-I just couldn’t believe nobody had done it before.  I was like, “This is going to be incredible.”  And I can only tell you that I just felt so sure about it.  I mean the whole thing was an act of faith, of course.  I mean you know you-we couldn’t sign contracts.  And I was obviously worried that who would pay for such an endeavor.  I mean that’s the biggest hurdle.  I knew Rick well enough to know that this is an extremely patient human being and he was not going to lose interest, you know.  And of course finding Ellar was-it was like hunting for the Dalai Lama, you know.

GALLOWAY:  Were you involved with that hunt?

HAWKE:  No.  I mean only the way a best friend would be involved.  I just heard how it was going.

GALLOWAY:  Were you brought in for editing?

HAWKE:  Sure, everybody was involved.  It was the fact that Rick used us as an example of his truth.  You know if you look at a eight-year-old River Phoenix where he talked about Explorers.  He’s like, “Go see Explorers.”  He’s like, “I knew you guys were going to be good.”  Like people act like life is such a mystery.  You know he’s like, “I could tell with my kids when I went.”  He you know, “This one’s going to be interested in sports.  This one’s not.”  Like there is a lot, if you’re still willing to listen and spend time with somebody, there’s a lot.  It’s not that mysterious, you know.  But anyway, what about editing and stuff?

GALLOWAY:  Did the script evolve over 12 years?

HAWKE:  Well, it had to.  You can’t write a scene about Lady Gaga in 2002, you know you can’t.  We did the scene with the election with McCain and Obama not knowing who was going to win.  It was like fun making a period movie in the present.  It was really interest-trying to figure out well, remember we were coming up with the whole Sarah Palin stuff and go, “Are people going to remember Sarah Palin?”  And I would think, “God, I hope not.”  “Well yeah, I think they will.  I think this is going to register.”  You know and then deciding all right, well it will be interesting even if it doesn’t you know because we-Rick and I would talk about how one of the things.

HAWKE:  Rick always viewed the movie as a memory.  It was already a memory in his mind, like what do you remember about your childhood, is it collage moments?  It’s never the big moments, never the first beer or losing your virginity, all that stuff.  He had this line; he’s like when that stuff happens you feel like almost an extra in a movie of your life.  Like but the real stuff was just hanging out with your friends, or being on a swing, or you know where you just try to-one of them being I remember saying to Rick, “You know one of the most-I remember the first moment I realized that there were no elves.”  He was like, “Yeah, we got to get that in the movie.  Right, I love that moment.”  And the whole thing just evolved.  It was a long decade-plus dialog about childhood and growing up and it was so fun.  I’m so sad it’s over.

GALLOWAY:  How do you feel when you watch yourself age onscreen over 12 years?

HAWKE:  I think much is made of that.  It’s as if there’s an alternative, you know.  And it’s I keep-I never can explain this well.  But do you know how when it’s extremely hot, like it’s really hot, and you’re at a pool or something and everybody’s just, “God it’s hot today, huh?”  And you go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”  Five minutes go by, somebody goes, “Woo-hoo, hot today.”  Right, “Yes, it’s hot.”  I feel that way about aging.  Everybody keeps saying, “Woo, you’re getting older.”  “Yeah, me too; yeah, time goes fast.”  Geez, I mean my whole life everybody’s been saying that over and over again.  Yes, it is true.  And even if you like you know jack yourself up on plastic surgery you’re still aging.  It’s like my kids, we met somebody who had a lot of plastic surgery the other day, and as soon as she left the room my son said, “How old is she?”  And it’s true because there’s just you know it’s like there’s a ripple in the force or something, you know it’s…

GALLOWAY:  Have you seen the documentary series, 7 Up, where every seven years…

HAWKE:  …they interview these children?

GALLOWAY:  Right, a British filmmaker.

HAWKE:  Yeah, but that film’s largely about class.

GALLOWAY:  But whatever they are now, you know.

HAWKE:  They’re in the 50’s now.

GALLOWAY:  The way time hurdles by is kind of heartbreaking.

HAWKE:  Well, life is heartbreaking, it is.  But no, I mean that’s what’s profound about the movie.  Is the absolute-it’s like the only question is what part of us is continuous?  You watch that little boy staring at the sky.  And then at the end he’s you know chewing on a hash brownie and flirting with a girl.  And it’s like it’s the same person.  He’s unrecognizable but we watched him get there.  And there is continuity inside here somewhere.  But what is it?  Because it’s not the body, you know and it’s not time.  We think we have all of this agency in our life, like, “Oh, am I going to go to this college or this college?”  And yet so much of what defines who we are is our parents and what they’ve been through; our brothers and sisters, what happened to them.  And then the town we live in, the culture we live in, the time period we live in; all of that is shaping us to the point where we almost have no agency at all.  I mean it’s very delicate what our agency is.  And that’s what the movie’s touching on.  And that’s by-you know Rick is just you know he’s harnessing the power of time as this huge special effect in the movie.  But I find it very powerful.

GALLOWAY:  Let’s take questions.  Introduce yourself first.

Q:  Hi, I’m Ali.  Thank you so much for coming, by the way.

HAWKE:  My pleasure.

Q:  Could you tell us more about the writing process that you used?

HAWKE:  The writing process was some of the most exciting and rewarding moments of my life.  It felt a lot like being in a band.  We met on Waking Life.  For those of you who haven’t seen it there’s a movie called Waking Life that Richard Linklater directed that’s brilliant.  I love it so much.  And Rick wanted Julie and I to have a little cameo in this movie so we all got together in Austin.  It had been about five years since Before Sunrise.  And we just got along like hellfire.  You know I mean and just and when we walked out Rick was like, “We got to make another movie together.  Where would these characters be right now?”  And so for a few years we would go, “Well what do you think?  What do you think?  Maybe they should get married?  What if this happened?  What happens?”  And we didn’t know what to do.  And I had written a book and was doing a book tour and Rick came to introduce me at a book reading at like you know a Barnes & Noble in Austin.  And after it was over he picked me up because we were going to drive out to the country and do something.  I don’t know what.  And he picked me up and he’s like, “I know what should happen.”  I’m like, “What?”  “Jesse wrote a book about meeting her.  You know they didn’t-and she shows up at the booking signing.”  He’s like, “That’s how they should meet again.”  I was like, “That’s awesome.”  He’s like, “I just don’t know what happens after that.”  And I’m like, “Nothing.  That’s it.  That’s the whole movie.  That should be the whole movie.”  And he’s like, “You’re right.  That’s awesome.  Well, they’ll just like walk around.  It will all be in real time.  It will be a ticking-that will be the bomb, you know are they going to say goodbye again or not?”  You know and you just feel that, are they going to?  Yeah-yeah-yeah.  So we got home, we called Julie, and she was like, “Okay, okay, well when are we going to do this?”  And so we met in LA for a week and we batted out an outline like how could that be, you know?  Basically it was as simple as meet at the book tour and then the last exchange of the movie, which is for those of you who haven’t seen it, it was, “Boy, you’re going to miss that plane.”  And him saying, “I know.”  Cut to black and we’re like we’ll figure out the rest later.  And then we went to-then Rick hustled together some money on the outline.  We were both given assignments.  Rick would say you have a good hit on that idea; you have a good hit on that one.  And I’ll try to write that and send it to me.  So we arrived in Paris about a month before shooting with about a 30-page script.  And then we just worked every day building on the ideas.  And the trouble with that movie was that there would be no deleted scenes.  I mean because it was time continuous Rick knew there was no editing of that movie.  It all-we had to have it all figured out before.  And he knew we wanted to do these long takes so that was that one.  And then the third one came about seven years later.  We all kind of thought, “Well, should we do another one?”  And I had a burning desire to do a third one.  I felt like I loved the ending of the second one.  But I felt like it was a call that needed an answer.  You know it felt unfinished to me.  And so we met at my house when Julie was directing some movie.  Rick came in and we all kind of sat around and said, “What do you see?”  And we all had the same idea for the movie; that it should be about what happens when you get what you want.  You know the first two were kind of about unrequited love.  And the third had to be the answer about what happens when you get what you want.

GALLOWAY:  Is there going to be a fourth one?

HAWKE:  You know we made a deal that five years after it came out, the third one, we’ll meet and we’ll see.  If we keep seeing the characters in the same trajectory and we all want to write the same movie we’ll keep going.

Q:  Hi, I’m Mia.  I’m a film production and screenwriting second-year student.  And also coming back to the trilogy, the performance there is really amazing.  I mean people feel like they are watching their own life unfold onscreen.  So you talked a little bit about rehearsing with Richard.  And I was just wondering if you could give us some tips for rehearsals and directing actors.

HAWKE:  I’ll tell a story that wasn’t from that movie, but it’s the same thing.  I did a movie called Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sidney Lumet.  And we were rehearsing and we finished the scene and Sidney said to Phil, “I really think that Andy should cry here, don’t you?”  And Phil was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, on the day he should probably fall to pieces.”  You know and Sidney goes, “What do you mean?”  “Well, I mean when we do it.”  And Sidney’s like, “Well, we’re doing it now.”  And Philip says, “Well, I mean when we shoot.”  He goes, “Yeah, but we’re shooting now.”  Meaning you play as you practice, you know.  Let’s do it now.  What are we saving it for?  What is it, some kind of magic?  It only comes once in a lifetime?  No.  Let’s do it.  I want to see if it works.  What do you mean he should ball his guts out?  Let’s do it.  And I remember Phil goes to me, “Did Pacino do this shit?”  And Rick is the same way.  He would drill Julie and I.  Julie-I love the process because I do a lot of plays but Julie kind of hates it.  I mean the process of rehearsal because you have to get past the-see if you just rehearse a little bit all spontaneity goes out of it.  And if you’ve rehearsed a lot it comes back.  It’s really strange and I know that from the theater.  There’s always a moment in the third week of rehearsal of a play that the thing is a disaster.  It’s never-you know you’re longing for that first day of rehearsal.  And then it [MAKES NOISE] and then it’s oddly enough usually around six-seven weeks the play is really at its finest.  And then it can start getting still.

Q:  Hi, Hawke.  I’m Jamie O’Duncan.

HAWKE:  Hey, Jamie.

Q:  And I’m a second-year graduate in production.  And I was wondering how you pick your roles?  You’ve had a few.  You’ve had several films that kind of involved your life over decades now.  And I was wondering like what is-what’s your goal in your career as an actor?

HAWKE:  To hold the mirror, as it were, up to nature. [LAUGHTER] No.  My goal is to tell good stories, you know.  And to try as best I can to do something new with acting.  You know to learn from the past and to be a relevant artist, right?  To make stories that are interesting and contemporary to now and to tell some kind of emotional truth.  That always interests me.  And what was the first part of your question?

Q:  How do you pick your roles?

HAWKE:  Oh, yeah.  That’s the hardest thing.  That is the absolute thing that nobody can teach you and is very, very difficult.  And ultimately, of course, you have to follow your heart and do jobs that really speak to you.  But sometimes in the life of an actor you’re not getting offered any jobs that speak to you.  You know the trouble with acting is that you’re only as good as your opportunities.  You know if Rick-I’m so happy to be a part of Boyhood and be a part of this elaborate experiment.  And I was onboard and I loved it and I got it.  But you know I wasn’t going to do it.  You know I needed Rick.  He’s got the patience and the fortitude and… [OVERLAP]

GALLOWAY:  What do you mean you weren’t going to do it?

HAWKE:  I wasn’t going to make that movie on my own, you know.  I wouldn’t have made the sequel to Before Sunrise.  I mean I loved writing it.  I loved acting it.  It’s as embedded in the-there is a part of me in that celluloid.  And you know that’s what Kazan used to say is the goal of a-when a performance is really great there is a part of the actor in the celluloid.  There is a part of the director in the celluloid.  You know you watch On the Waterfront.  There is a reason why that performance is so famous.  That means something to those people.  It wasn’t just a movie.  There was something else going on in those frames, you know.  And that’s what I aspire for in everything I do.  And with Linklater it’s easier because he’s after the same goal, you know.  But Training Day, the same thing, you know Denzel’s putting something personal at stake there.  It meant a lot to him you know to play-the NAACP came to the set and said, “What are you doing?”  And you know I never had a political organization talk to me about what roles I pick.  And Denzel, I remember him saying, “What, Al Pacino can play a bad guy.  Gene Hackman can play a bad guy.  I can’t play a bad guy?  I’m an artist.  That’s how I lead, not by being some dubious role model by only playing squeaky clean people.  I’ll be a role model by being great at my job.”  You know now that is impressive to me obviously.  But it’s not really to the point of your question.  But how I pick my roles is very-there’s moments that it’s easy when good parts are coming your way and you can kind of pick between lots of good projects.  And I’m always jealous, you know like you see, oh Russell Crowe’s in seven movies in a row.  Seven years in a row or something he’s got movies nominated for Best Picture.  Well, he’s smart and he’s got the pick of the litter, you know.  It’s harder when you’re just a struggling actor and you got to decide between an episode of Matlock and an episode of CSI, you know because there is two different things.  Sometimes you just have to take what’s given to you and just do the best you can with it and try to bring some.  You know look at Vincent D’Onofrio on Criminal Intent.  He’s doing a real performance inside of a half an hour’s you know little crime show.  That’s hard, you know.  That’s really hard.  And so it’s very hard but it has to do with you and your own makeup and what’s going to thrill you to be on set.  That’s what I just try to do.  It’s like 3:00 AM, the alarm goes off, do I want to jump up and go tell this story?  Or would I be proud of myself if I was sitting here and all of you guys are watching it?

GALLOWAY:  Next question and we’ll wrap up.

Q:  Hi, I’m Sarah.  Thank you so much for being here.  I’m a screenwriting major.  I received an email from you last week on behalf of the New Group.

HAWKE:  Oh, wow.

Q:  So I just…

HAWKE:  My wife wrote it.

Q:  You what?

HAWKE:  No, I was just kidding. [LAUGHTER]

Q:  Oh. [LAUGHTER]

HAWKE:  The New Group is a theater company in New York of which I’m on the Board and a member of.  And it means a lot to me and I sent out an email to raise money.  That’s the letter she’s referring to.

Q:  And it was great because you talked about how some of your best memories as an actor, and a director, and audience member have been with the Group.  And as someone who you’re in film, you’re onstage, you’re acting, you’re writing, directing; when you were our age did you aspire to do all of that or was acting kind of your main goal?  How did you get to kind of doing everything?

HAWKE:  I didn’t know.  You know everything in hindsight always seems so inevitable.  But I really didn’t know.  I really wanted to be a writer.  That’s what I thought.  I wrote short stories in high school.  And I-my mother wanted me to be a writer.  I think she probably named me-you know there’s a Herman Wouk novel called Youngblood Hawke.  And sometimes I think she fell in love with my Dad just because she liked that novel.  And she liked Hawke Frome and kind of put them together and thought that sounded like a novelist, you know.  And so she’s always been a little disappointed by this whole acting jag.

GALLOWAY:  Is the Tennessee Williams connection on her side or your father’s?

HAWKE:  My Dad’s side.

GALLOWAY:  And he’s your great-great-uncle?

HAWKE:  Uh-huh.

GALLOWAY:  Did you ever meet him?

HAWKE:  No, no.  Yeah, you know when he was alive-you know he died when I was about 13 and just at the time I was starting acting.  He was always the funny uncle, you know what I mean. [MAKES NOISE] He lives an alternative lifestyle my grandmother would say.  And but what were we talking about?

Q:  Just everything; acting and directing.

HAWKE:  Oh, yeah.  I don’t know.

GALLOWAY:  You wanted to write.

HAWKE:  Oh, yeah.  I wanted to write. I liked acting but I was worried about it because it’s hard.  It’s hard when you’re only as good as your opportunity.  I was always jealous of musicians who could sit around and practice the guitar.  You know even if the albums don’t get released they can make an album.  Acting is strange that way and you know if you don’t get to play with good people it’s hard.  But ultimately what it was is the success of Dead Poets Society generated an inertia in my life that kind of made up my mind for me.  I started getting job offers acting and even after that I tried to start a theater company.  I still tried to write a novel.  I was always sure -- I had a lot of fear that I was going to be one of those washed-up teen actors.  And I just didn’t want to be you know, some drug casualty or somebody who lost their interest.  And I knew that if I wrote and I did other things I would have something.  I mean look, let’s face it, even now, I’m 44, and as I get older you know being a movie star is a young person’s game.  And you’ve got to create an avenue for yourself to grow into, you know.  And now, yes, acting is-there is a lot of room for growth.  I mean look at Christopher Plummer, look at-I mean these are great, great actors.  But making your livelihood as a leading man gets more and more difficult.  And so I’ve wanted to live my life in such a way to make it easier for me to, so when I come to want to direct I’ve actually-I already have some experience at it.  You know I’ve directed a handful of movies and a bunch of plays.  And so it was never a conscious decision.  I almost feel for a lot of us life happens to us.  You know doors open and you just decide to go in or you decide it doesn’t-it seems cold in there.  I’m not going in there.  And then dominoes start falling left and right.

GALLOWAY:  Hawke, thank you so much.  Some of this work is just wonderful.

HAWKE:  And the rest of it, not so good? [LAUGHTER]

GALLOWAY:  What’s wrong with that?

HAWKE:  Well, it just…

GALLOWAY:  It’s kind of a miracle.

HAWKE:  Yeah, yeah.

GALLOWAY:  You’ve got a pretty good batting average.

HAWKE:  Well, that’s nice.

GALLOWAY:  Thanks so much.

HAWKE:  Thank you.

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