Celebrated actor, writer, and director Ethan Hawke came to Washington, DC, this week to promote his new children’s book, Rules for a Knight. He was interviewed by New Yorker writer Margaret Talbot at the historic Sixth & I Synagogue. Hawke admitted that the book grew out of his concerns about how to spend time with his four children. Being a divorced father presented somewhat of a challenge to him. Fortunately, he found that his children liked knights (but not princesses).
“There’s something about knights that makes it cool to be virtuous,” he added. This shared fascination with knights ultimately developed into the book, with illustrations of birds beautifully executed by Hawke’s wife, Ryan. The story consists of a letter written by a Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawke to his four children. He expects to die in an impending battle. The knight hopes that his children can lead a noble life based on the lessons he learned.
Audience members at Sixth & I also had a hand in the discussion topics. Yes, his real name is Ethan Hawke. “It sounds like a candy bar,” Hawke’s half-brother told him when they met for the first time. Stage names are interesting to him because it seems easier to take criticism when it’s not directed at ones given name. His well-meaning mother sends him positive online reviews, which also have the negative comments at the bottom.
Nonetheless, Hawke doesn’t let negatively online or within the industry deter him from pursuing projects. It’s a positive attitude that the crowd enjoyed and is always refreshing to see within the entertainment industry. “If there’s a value in the attempt, then just do it,” he urged. He has had a variety of roles, but he emphasized that he is an actor. “Everyone who gets into acting secretly wants to be a rock star,” he joked, when asked if he wanted to start a rock band.
Hawke also touched upon the rewarding experiences of working with Richard Linklater, the writer and director of critically acclaimed Boyhood. “We graph it out like a geometry project then add coats of paint to make it more realistic,” he explained. This process of shaping the dialogue entails inserting parts to the conversation like an anecdote or detail that never gets finished. Hawke also finds that these types of scripts also do much to produce “3 dimensional” roles for women. “I love seeing women who are more like the women in my life,” he said.
With a book release under his belt, Ethan Hawke is staying busy. Two of his films, Born to Be Blue and Maggie’s Plan, are still circulating through film festivals. There’s no release date as of today for Born to Be Blue, but IFC already acquired distribution rights. Maggie’s Plan is expected to hit theaters in Spring 2016 through Sony Pictures Classics.
This article was originally published on Blogcritics.org under the same title.