Ethan Hawke is having quite the year. He began 2022 by making his Marvel debut in “Moon Knight” on Disney+, and he recently directed “The Last Movie Stars,” an HBO Max documentary about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
While those two projects might seem to occupy opposite ends of the entertainment spectrum, Hawke’s experience working on one inspired him to make the other. In a new interview with Insider, the actor revealed that he was initially hesitant to star in “Moon Knight.” But after talking with his family, he decided to take the role because he thought that was what Paul Newman would do.
“I remember I was sitting at my dinner table and I had just been offered ‘Moon Knight’ and I was trying to decide whether to do that or not,” Hawke said. “And my youngest, Indiana, who was 10 at the time, said, ‘Well, Dad, what would Paul do?'”
While Newman never made a superhero movie, Hawke believes that some of his later roles suggest that he would have embraced today’s franchise-driven entertainment landscape — if he had to.
“Do I think he admired blockbusters and superhero movies? No, I don’t,” Hawke said. “He hated doing ‘Towering Inferno.’ That was his idea of a giant sellout. You see him in physical pain in that movie.”
In that sense, Hawke says that he made the decision to appear in “Moon Knight” for purely financial reasons, something that he also thinks Newman would have done to support his family.
“It’s still a job,” Hawke said. “You still have to put food on the table.”
Hawke’s comments echo similar remarks he made in a recent interview with IndieWire, where he said that the money Newman made from “The Towering Inferno” gave him the flexibility to make many of his more beloved films.
“We can make fun of ‘Towering Inferno’ now, but that was the biggest movie of the year,” Hawke said. “He got 10 years of creative freedom because of that movie. He was smart to do it, even if it isn’t a movie that’s worth talking about in the legacy of his work.”
Still, it appears that Hawke enjoyed the experience of working on “Moon Knight,” as he eventually praised the creative freedom that Marvel gave him as an actor. He believes that finding a balance between art and commerce is what Paul Newman would have done.
“I am an actor,” he said. “That is how I pay my kids’ medical bills, that’s how I put a roof over our heads. And my job is not to change the world and make it the perfect place. My job is to do good work to the best of my ability. So we all decided, ‘I think you should do it.’ And I’m glad I did.”