Ethan Hawke on Having the “Attitude of a Student” and How an Actor Can Have an “Interesting Career”

“There has been no real plan… I’ve tried to put myself in situations that seem unconventional and maintain the attitude of a student and keep pushing myself forward.” –

Oscar-nominated actor Ethan Hawke already had built an impressive resume when he received his first Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in 2001’s Training Day. Hawke’s career has continued to move in interesting directions ever since, and he has been a reliable presence in all kinds of independent films from filmmakers (including some movies he has directed himself).

In an interview with Canoe to mark the 25th anniversary of one of his most enduring films, Before Sunrise, Hawke reflected on his career trajectory and offered insight on how an actor can have an “interesting career.”

Hawke has had quite a varied career, from starring in indie films with Richard Linklater to big-budget movies like The Magnificent Seven to playing Macbeth on Broadway. Regarding that, Hawke remarks, “I’ve always felt a little bit like a cat. There has been no real plan. I’ve just been trying to stay alive and interested and surprise myself. I’ve tried to put myself in situations that seem unconventional and maintain the attitude of a student and keep pushing myself forward.”

At the same time, Hawke is aware of the importance of not taking his profession too seriously. He explains, “Philip Seymour Hoffman used to say that you have to do this job and maintain a sense of humor, that we’re just a bunch of kids putting on a play. It’s all a goof. But, also, treat it like life and death and a game that matters. If you can hold both those truths at the same time then you can really have an interesting career.”

About Author

In college, overachiever Christopher McKittrick double-majored in Film and English because he loves to read, write, and watch movies. Since then Chris – who was born and raised on Long Island, New York and currently lives in Queens – has become a published author of fiction and non-fiction, a contributor to entertainment websites, and has spoken about literature, film, and comic books at various conferences across the country when he’s not getting into trouble in New York City (apparently it’s illegal to sleep on street corners...) For more information about Chris, visit his website here!

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