Ethan Hawke has been nominated for four Academy Awards throughout his career so far. The first came in 2002 when his role opposite Denzel Washington in “Training Day” earned him a nomination for best supporting actor, a category he would compete in once again in 2015 for “Boyhood.” Hawke’s other two nominations are for writing the screenplays for “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight.” Despite four nominations, Hawke has yet to earn the golden trophy, which is something he admittedly cares about.
“Everyone in the world knows that when an actor says that they don’t want to win an award, they’re lying,” Hawke said to GQ when asked if he’s trying to win an Oscar. “I interviewed Patti Smith and I asked her about that and she said, ‘I want to win every award!’ I loved that answer.”
Hawke is back in the Oscar conversation this year thanks to his lead role in Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed,” which earned him some of the best acting reviews of his career. The actor said he’s been thinking more lately about how to answer questions of whether or not he wants an Oscar. While Hawke suggested he’d be lying if he said he didn’t care about winning one, he did say that it would have to be under the right circumstances.
“I’ve always been wary of being famous for something I don’t feel good about,” Hawke said. “You know, we never leave our childhood behind. River Phoenix was my first scene partner. I watched him become successful…He had huge fans for ‘A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon,’ right? And it filled him with insecurity, because he didn’t think the movie was any good. And he was so proud of ‘My Own Private Idaho.’ And then because he started making a name for himself—he was cast as Young Indiana Jones, and that made him really insecure.”
Hawke said watching River Phoenix’s career taught him about actors’ “strange relationship to celebrity and self-confidence and that if it’s off, there’s a real misshapenness in your self-esteem.” Patti Smith feels good about her awards because “she earned them all doing her own work her own way,” Hawke said, and that’s exactly how he wants to win his first Oscar.
“Linklater’s not conflicted about winning a prize for ‘Boyhood,'” Hawke said, providing another example. “That’s his life’s work. Fuckin’ A!”
Hawke can next be seen opposite Rose Byrne in the Sundance favorite “Juliet, Naked,” in theaters August 17. The actor’s next directorial effort, “Blaze” opens September 7. Head over to GQ to read Hawke’s full interview.