Ethan Hawke slides into the plush leather chair
at the press table with a smile just as comfortable;
his upbeat, talkative demeanor nearly mock his timid,
shaking (often sweaty) screen persona.
It's a testament to why the piece is a masterpiece
because everybody brings something different to it.
He's so multifaceted everybody who attacks it focuses
on a different side of the character. Mel Gibson had
him real rambunctious, reminded me of the guy in
"Lethal Weapon," which was a good thing.
Mostly these other guys who
played hamlet were too old. In a modern sense he's
much more of a Holden Caulfield or a Kurt Cobain.
Many of his dilemmas are a young man's dilemmas ...
Seeking meaning, feeling overshadowed by your parents
feeling lost and overwhelmed by society ...
We wanted to make it as accessible as possible ...
Allow for the audience to experience ... in a new way
and treat it not as some old dusty thing that is very
precious but to break down those walls and let the
character's emotional life live in a new way.
Shakespeare purists, people who really know a lot
about Shakespeare will love it, because they just
want it to be a living breathing art form. If you
have some idea in your head that British people are
they only people who do it right, then you're not
gonna like it. But I don't follow in that school...
Despite the modern setting, when the movie is done
it's the play that resonates.
(On work and family life)
If you don't make your family a priority then you'll
loose them. So now I try to do things that I really
believe in, get the most bang for my buck, thus
I wrote a novel, "The Hottest State" came out a
couple years ago, it was a really fun experience for
me. The book is about a twenty-year-old guy who's so
in love with a girl that he loses his mind. I was so
interested in doing something else, because I've been
in movies since I was young. At the time, I was
adamant to not make a movie out of it, but as time
goes by ... I might.
We live in a community which tries to box us all in.
Like you're a journalist, you just do this or you
just do that ... you can't also be a musician. You
know... I just resent that. I think we're all a lot
more than that.
(On other film activities...)
I just directed a picture on DV. I got turned on by
"The Celebration" and how cheaply you can make a
movie. If it's any good ... it's call "The last word
on Paradise" it's mildly inspired by Dylan Thomas'
"Under Milkwood" which is it all takes place in a
hotel over the course of a day and involves about 35
people. The hope is to illustrate how close we are in
proximity, and how cut off from each other we are,
how similar all our experiences are but how separate
we all feel.
(Favorite non-film thing to do...)
Take my daughter to the park and play guitar, which
unfortunately she doesn't like me to do .. "No daddy
(On Music)Michael Almereyda, eloquent in his
soft-spoken boyish manner, replaces Ethan in the
I listen to a lot of Beck and a band called
(On his contemporary
interpretation of Hamlet)
It never occurred to be not to do it modern. I was
thinking about other plays, but this one seemed to be
I couldn't pretend I had a high-cultured British
background. [Besides] it's been done beautifully. I
wanted to address it in terms I understood that were
specifically American, the entire cast is American
except for a couple Irish people thrown in for good
Every spoken line is by Shakespeare, the original
language is very in tact as much as it's been cut I
hope it's more of a distillation than anything else
... in an attempt to get to the essence of the
There's so much that's great. There is no
definitive Hamlet, there's variance, different
versions, ... it wasn't published in Shakespeare's
lifetime. It's an unruly play an unwieldy play, part
of the challenge and excitement about taking it on is
that you have to make cuts. You have to decide what
means the most.
That's the nature of Shakespeare is that he
accommodates extremes, invites them and demands them
in a way. The adaptation was done with an element of
respect. The way you can respect Shakespeare the most
is not being too precious not being to reverent
because these plays were always done as popular
entertainment they were meant for big crowds. They
were meant for mass audiences. A scholar explained
the Globe theatre had a seating capacity of 2000. I
never realized that. The plays are still alive and
kicking, the idea was to pack it with
spirit.(On Bill Murray)
He's is one of my favorite actors ... He brings a
peculiar kind of tenderness to the role, he warms it
up. He was my first choice, I was glad to have an
excuse to work with him and he was glad to be excused
to work with Bill Shakespeare (Laughs). (On Ethan
I think he's just turned twenty-nine ... but he was
twenty-seven at the time we shot it and he looks
particularly boyish with the right lighting
(chuckles). He was the first one I thought of for the
role and the first one I went to. I had a six-page
treatment, on the basis of the treatment he said yes.
He's an old friend, and when he said yes
understanding we'd be shooting on 16mm and everyone
working for scale, we knew we could raise the money.
[Two million]. Without him the movie wouldn't exist
for a second. From that point we had the luxury of
inviting our favorite actors to participate, the key
was I needed final cut because I had some bad
experiences before. And that's why the budget is so
tight. (On small budget independents)
We didn't always have permits, sometimes we were just
charging around. New York is pretty filmmaker
friendly, you don't have to pay for the streets, you
just gotta get the permits. We went super sixteen
because we wanted the movie to be above all intimate,
and you can be more mobile with the smaller cameras.
I wasn't any more obsessed than when making any other
movie - I just thought I was having fun. The
challenging thing is that the movie was done so
cheaply, with everyone working at scale, and we
didn't have much time especially to rehearse, we were
flying at times, so there's an edge of panic to it
that I wouldn't have minded deducting. I like big
budget films. My favorite movie last year was "The
Matrix", but it's maybe my character, my sensibility
that makes me think I won't be having big budgets to
work with. I just get a sense that in order to make
films and retain final cut I'll probably stay
independent. Press: Is there a downside to
making independent films?