Ethan Hawke

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Award-Winning Actor, Director & Writer


Ethan Hawke: Biography at a Glance

  • Ethan Hawke is an award-winning actor, writer, and director. He has been nominated for four Academy Awards and a Tony Award.
  • Hawke has directed three feature films, three off-Broadway plays, and a documentary. He has also written three novels and one graphic novel.
  • He made his film debut with the 1985 science fiction feature Explorers, before making a breakthrough appearance in the 1989 drama Dead Poets Society. He appeared in various films before taking a role in the 1994 Generation X drama Reality Bites, for which he received critical praise.
  • Hawke has been nominated twice for both the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor; his writing contributions to Before Sunset and Before Midnight were recognized, as were his performances in Training Day (2001) and Boyhood (2014).
  • His other films include the science fiction drama Gattaca (1997), the contemporary adaptation of Hamlet (2000), the action thriller Assault on Precinct 13 (2005), Sidney Lumet's crime drama Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007), and the horror film Sinister (2012).


"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may," is a phrase a young Ethan Hawke took to heart while filming "Dead Poets Society," the Academy Award®-winning drama that launched his career as an actor. Thirty years and several Tony® and Oscar® nominations later, he has emerged a multifaceted artist, challenging himself as a novelist, screenwriter and director. In 2019, The New York Times summed it up: “Ethan Hawke has quietly emerged as perhaps our boldest and most distinctive screen actor.”

He recently made his television debut in Showtime’s limited series “The Good Lord Bird” based on the National Book Award-winning novel by bestselling author James McBride. Hawke, who executive produced and co-wrote the series, stars as 19th century abolitionist John Brown. 

Hawke’s performance in “The Good Lord Bird” has received universal critical acclaim, suggesting an actor at the peak of his powers, also evidenced recently in Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed,” for which Hawke won the Independent Spirit Award, the Gotham Award and over 30 critics awards for Best Actor including the New York Film Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The film, which was released by A24 in 2018, premiered at the Venice, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals.

It was recently announced that he will publish his fifth work as an author, A Bright Ray of Darkness, which will be released by Knopf on February 2, 2021. The novel explores art and love, fame and heartbreak in a blistering story of a young man making his Broadway debut in Henry IV just as his marriage implodes. Also, on the author front, on July 20, 2021, Hawke and New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Greg Ruth, will debut Meadowlark: A Coming of Age Crime Story. The graphic novel follows a father and son as they navigate an increasingly catastrophic day.

Upcoming, Hawke will star in Robert Eggers historical film, “The Northman” alongside Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgård and Icelandic singer Björk. Also just announced, he will be seen in “The Guilty”, a dramatic thriller by Netflix which cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano and more.

Hawke has collaborated with filmmaker Richard Linklater on multiple occasions, including "Fast Food Nation," "Waking Life," "The Newton Boys" and "Tape." Their most recent collaboration, "Boyhood," premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was released by IFC in 2014. Hawke starred alongside Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane in the critically acclaimed film that was shot intermittently over 12 years chronicling the life of a child from age 6-18. For his performance, Hawke received Academy Award®, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award, Golden Globe® Award, BAFTA Award, Film Independent Spirit Award, Critics’ Choice Film Award and Gotham Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor. 

Marking another one of their celebrated projects, Hawke starred opposite Julie Delpy in the critically acclaimed film "Before Sunrise" and its two sequels "Before Sunset" and "Before Midnight." The trio co-wrote the screenplays for "Before Sunset" and “Before Midnight” and received Academy Award® and Independent Spirit Award nominations for both scripts. Hawke, Linklater and Delpy were honored with the Louis XIII Genius Award for achievement in cinematic works for the "Before" films at the BFCA Critics Choice Awards.

Tapping into the pop culture zeitgeist with Ben Stiller's 1994 comedy "Reality Bites," Hawke has starred in over sixty films, including, “Maudie,” “Born to Be Blue,” “Juliet Naked,” “Maggie’s Plan,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Phenom," “Good Kill,” “Predestination,” “The Purge,” "Explorers," "White Fang," "Gattaca," "Great Expectations," "Hamlet," "What Doesn't Kill You," "Brooklyn's Finest," "Sinister" and "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead." Hawke received Academy Award® and Screen Actors Guild Supporting Actor nominations for his work in Antoine Fuqua's "Training Day," opposite Denzel Washington. He was recently seen in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “The Truth” alongside Juliette Binoche and Catherine Deneuve, and as Nikola Tesla in “Tesla” from writer-director Michael Almereyda.

Behind the lens, Hawke made his directorial debut in 2001 with his drama "Chelsea Walls." The film tells five stories set in a single day at the Chelsea Hotel and stars Uma Thurman, Kris Kristofferson, Rosario Dawson, Natasha Richardson and Steve Zahn. Additionally, he directed Josh Hamilton in the short film "Straight to One," a story of a couple, young and in love, living in the Chelsea Hotel. Hawke made his documentary directorial debut with “Seymour: An Introduction,” which premiered at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival and earned raves from critics and audiences alike. The project follows the life of the legendary pianist and piano teacher Seymour Bernstein. IFC released the film in 2015. Most recently, Hawke co-wrote, produced and directed “Blaze,” which was inspired by the life of Blaze Foley, the unsung songwriting legend of the Texas outlaw music movement that spawned the likes of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. Released in 2018, the film was produced by Hawke and his wife Ryan for their Under The Influence banner and premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

In 1996, Hawke wrote his first novel, The Hottest State, published by Little Brown and now in its nineteenth printing. In his sophomore directorial endeavor, Hawke adapted for the screen and directed the on-screen version of The Hottest State and directed a music video for the film, featuring Lisa Loeb. His second novel, Ash Wednesday, was published by Knopf in 2002 and was chosen for Bloomsbury's contemporary classics series. Hawke's graphic novel, Indeh, with illustrator Greg Ruth, was published by Grand Central Publishing in 2016. Indeh captures the narrative of two nations at war who strive to find peace and forgiveness in a time of great upheaval. It debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List for Hardcover Graphic Novels. Upcoming, Hawke is teaming up with Ruth again for a new graphic novel titled Meadowlark that follows a father and son as they navigate an increasingly catastrophic day. In late 2015, Hawke released his first children’s book Rules for a Knight through Knopf, which features illustrations by his wife, Ryan Hawke. Rules for a Knight, a New York Times best-seller, is framed as a long-lost document, recently found and republished by Hawke, a distant relative of the knight, Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawke. In addition to his work as a novelist, Hawke wrote an in-depth and celebrated profile of icon Kris Kristofferson for Rolling Stone in 2009.

At the age of twenty-one, Hawke founded the Malaparte Theater Co., which remained open for more than five years giving young artists a home to develop their craft. In 1992, Hawke made his Broadway debut in "The Seagull." Additionally, he has appeared in "Henry IV" alongside Richard Easton on Broadway, "Buried Child" (Steppenwolf), "Hurlyburly," for which he earned a Lucille Lortel Award Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor and Drama League Award Nomination for Distinguished Performance (The New Group), Tom Stoppard's "The Coast of Utopia," for which he was honored with a Tony® Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play and Drama League Award nomination for Distinguished Performance (Lincoln Center), the inaugural season of The Bridge Project's double billings of "The Cherry Orchard" and "A Winter's Tale," which garnered Hawke a Drama Desk Award Nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play (Brooklyn Academy of Music and The Old Vic) and "Blood From A Stone" (The New Group) which earned him a 2011 Obie Award for Performance. In 2007, Hawke made his Off-Broadway directing debut with the world premiere of Jonathan Marc Sherman's dark comedy, "Things We Want". In 2010, Hawke directed Sam Shepard's "A Lie of the Mind," for which he received a Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Director of a Play as well as recognition in the New York Times and The New Yorker top ten lists of the leading theatre productions in 2010. In 2012, he starred in Chekov's "Ivanov" for the Classic Stage Company. In 2013, he directed and starred in "Clive," a stage adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's "Baal," by Jonathan Marc Sherman (The New Group) and completed a successful run of Lincoln Center Theatre's production of “Macbeth” in the title role. Most recently, Hawke starred on Broadway in the highly-acclaimed 2019 revival of Sam Shephard’s Tony® and Pulitzer Prize-nominated play “True West” for the Roundabout Theater Company as “Lee” opposite Paul Dano as “Austin,” for which Hawke received a Drama League Award nomination for Distinguished Performance.

Hawke resides in New York and is married with four children.

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