Richard Linklater Talks Transcendentalism Film with Ethan Hawke, May Turn Project into Series

Linklater also gives an update on his animated Apollo 11 moon mission movie.
Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke attending the Richard Linklater Retrospective and Exhibition Opening at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France on November 25, 2019. Photo by Aurore Marechal/Abaca/Sipa USA(Sipa via AP Images)
Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke
Sipa USA via AP

Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke have long flourished as creative partners, no better witnessed than in the “Before” trilogy beginning in the 1990s and running through 2013. Next, it looks like the duo will reunite for a project about Transcendentalism in the 19th century. During a recent telethon to raise money for director Caveh Zahedi’s “The Show About the Show,” Linklater stopped by and gave a little detail on what to expect from this upcoming film (or TV series).

“Ethan has been blabbing about this lately,” Linklater said. “I’ve been working on this since 1989. I got to know the writer Robert Richardson before he died. I grew up going with my dad to the Emerson Unitarian church. There’s been a lot of scholarship about that period. So many women from that era have been overlooked. It’s hard to make a movie about historical figures who aren’t military or political figures. But I want to make a movie about ideas set in the 1840s or 1850s.”

But Linklater also added that the scope of the project means that it could be expanded into a longer form. “I’ve toyed around with it as a series, too. I’m kind of overwhelmed by the amount of material. It’s big,” he said.

Linklater also talked about his animated Netflix film “Apollo 10 1/2” about the Apollo 11 mission to the moon and inspired by Linklater’s childhood growing up in Texas.

“I’ve been on post with it ever since the pandemic,” Linklater said. “I’ve been mostly out here in the woods in post. This thing will be out early next year I imagine. It’s like ‘Waking Life’ 20 years later. I shot it with green screen. It’s more ambitious. It’s been a fun movie to be working on during an otherwise miserable time in the world.”

As for the Transcendentalism project, Ethan Hawke recently discussed it at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

“They were the first leaders of the abolition movement; they were vegetarians; they fought for women’s rights. [Richard Linklater] is obsessed with how their ideas are still very radical. This could be a super cool movie and Rick is writing it right now. He is mad at me [for coming to Karlovy Vary], he thinks I should be at his house,” Hawke said.

Eric Kohn contributed reporting.

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