Ethan Hawke has revealed that he looked to real-life titans to craft his portrayal of “Moon Knight” villain Arthur Harrow, a zealot associated with the god Ammit on a righteous mission that turns murderous.
“For me, it was like putting Jimmy Swaggart, Leo Tolstoy, [Fidel] Castro, the Dalai Lama, and Josef Mengele into a blender,” Hawke told USA Today of playing a charismatic cult leader with devious intentions. “That was the fun of it: What if Steve Jobs was a bad guy?”
Of course, the conflicting sides of multiple alter egos is the crux of “Moon Knight,” which stars Oscar Isaac in the title role as a military veteran battling mental illness who receives the powers of the ancient Egyptian god Khonshu. Isaac plays Marc Spector, Steven Grant, and Moon Knight — all variations living within the same man who “meet” one another. The six-episode series premieres March 30 on Disney+.
“It’s a story about identity and finding one’s true self,” executive producer Grant Curtis said. “The journey that Marc Spector is on during our whole show is: Who am I? And how do I reconcile portions of my past, present and potential future that I don’t necessarily agree with? Coming to terms with our baggage and learning to live with ourselves is what we all deal with on a day-to-day basis.”
As Isaac summed up, “He’s this Jewish Chicago guy who is enslaved to an Egyptian god. And one of his alters is English. It’s already like, ‘What?!’”
Yet Moon Knight’s obstacles are what make the character “much more than just sort of a palette-swapped ‘Batman’ clone,” writer and executive producer Jeremy Slater added, saying, “A lot of superheroes are defined by their villains [but] Moon Knight is his own greatest enemy in a lot of ways.”
But Hawke’s Arthur Harrow brings a new twist to the dynamic. Unlike superhero properties like “Spider-Man” or “Thor,” Moon Knight doesn’t already have a “tremendous amount of iconography” attached.
“We were able to create something free of too much expectation,” Hawke said.
The “First Reformed” star previously told Entertainment Weekly that psychiatrist Carl Jung and infamous cult leader David Koresh also served as inspirations for the role. “Your gut leads you,” Hawke said. “The uber-rich villain mastermind isn’t interesting to me. I love the ones who believe that they’re a good person and that’s why they have to kill you. That, I find really terrifying.”
Cue the mash-up villain of the century.
“Moon Knight” premieres March 30 on Disney+ with new episodes streaming weekly.