PHOTO: Ethan Hawke In gala sci-fi drama Gattaca -- Greg Henkenhaf, SUN

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Monday, September 8, 1997

Ethan's a hawk when it comes to work

Toronto Sun

 Ethan Hawke has heard the trash talk about the Generation Dilettante group of young actors working in Hollywood.
 Hawke reminded me yesterday at the Sutton Place hotel that the criticism goes something like: "You think you're something you haven't earned the right to be yet."
 As a published novelist, a working theatrical artistic director and high-profile actor, the 27-year-old has been a target for that tag, but try to imagine how little he cares.
 He's interested in effort, not posturing. Take the festival movie Gattaca, for instance.
 The Gattaca gala debut last night had Hawke playing the lead in a sci-fi feature about genetic altering and the future nightmare it might bring. Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, the movie also co-stars Uma Thurman and Jude Law, but the pressure is on Hawke, and he knows it.
 "When you're the lead, you have to manage the story and navigate the audience through it, and it becomes much more complicated," confirmed Hawke. "If the movie doesn't work, my performance failed."
 Like most in the movie game, Hawke has had a varied career of hits and misses after his first film, Explorers, at 13.
 For every acclaimed performance in Dead Poet's Society, Reality Bites, and Before Sunrise, there have been misguided roles in Dad and Rich In Love. His intentions, however, have been honorable.
 "I've aspired to be vigilant about choosing what movies to be involved in," Hawke said in his win-some-lose-some defence.
 Add two more to the maybe-maybe-not list. Hawke is featured in a modern revamping of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations set for release in December.
 And he just completed the Richard Linklater movie, Newton Boys, featuring fellow Texan Matthew McConaughey. It's the 1920s story of the most successful and least known bank robbers in America.
 On the Newton Boys set, the story was more like crazy Texans being Texans, noted Hawke, who was born and raised in Austin.
 So he was a native returning.
 "It was fun to go down there," added Hawke of the Texas shoot for Austin-based Linklater. "It was a real Texan contingent. And, y'know, Texans are maniacs for the most part."
 Whereas Canadians, Hawke has decided, must be kinder, gentler.
 "Look at your flag," he said smiling.
 "Every other flag looks like a big war banner. Your flag looks like -- you have trees."
 Only a true Texan would appreciate that.

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