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Ethan Hawke Is Ready To Follow In Obi-Wan’s Footsteps

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If there’s one thing Ethan Hawke has no right to complain about, it’s lack of opportunity. In the last five years alone, he’s directed two movies and appeared in roughly 20 others. But in spite of his relentless workload, Hawke believes his filmography is conspicuously light on one major ingredient: commercial blockbusters.

“One thing I haven’t been able to do that I really thought I would have been able to do is… give a meaningful performance inside a really commercial film,” he told Variety, citing Alec Guinness’ Oscar-nominated performance in Star Wars as an example of the opportunity he’s seeking. “To be that good in what basically is just a space flick—I mean, the acting in general is not very good in that film, but he elevates it with his life, and he actually imbues Obi-Wan Kenobi with a spiritual authority.”

Hawke’s brutally honest perspective is unlikely to endear him to fans of Star Wars—or The Lord of the Rings. “You see Ian McKellen say, ‘Fly, you fools.’ Most American actors couldn’t pull that line off. Imagine looking at the page and seeing, ‘Fly, you fools.’ Tough line. But if you’ve done Lear four times, it’s not that tough. I see those men, or Judi Dench—there’s lots of women, Vanessa Redgrave—these people who’ve lived a life in pursuit of something beyond celebrity and beyond fame, but then they can in turn use it in X-Men to great value.”

At the same time, Hawke isn’t only interested in commercial filmmaking. His next release is Paul Schrader’s First Reformed, a masterful exercise in art cinema minimalism that couldn’t be further from the mainstream—and he wouldn’t have it any other way. “When you do a movie like Training Day and the world sees it and you do a good job, it’s not [necessarily] what I’m after with my whole life,” he explained. “Because if all you want to do is make commercial movies, it’s kind of like saying all I want to do is make hamburgers.”

First Reformed arrives in theatres later this month. For a glimpse of everything Star Wars is not, check out the trailer below.