Ethan Hawke


  1. Wil Wheaton, Stand By Me, 1985.    “We saw so many people. I can’t remember them all,” said director Rob Reiner of his finest movie. Well, you tested Hawk, Sean Astin, Stephen Dorff and and Rivert Phoenix for the young Gordie Lachance – and got his high school buddy, Richard Dreyfuss, to voice the older, now a writer, narrating the drama). In Brent Lang’s 2016 oral history for Variety, Wheaton (who has since penned several books), praised Reiner for finding four boys “who were the characters we played.” Wheaton was awkward, nerdy, shy – “really, really sensitive. ” River Phoenix was cool, really smart, passionate “and even at that age, kinda like a father figure to some of us.  Jerry O’Connell  was one of the funniest people I had ever seen in my life… before or since. And Corey Feldman was unbelievably angry… in an incredible amount of pain [with] an absolutely terrible relationship with his parents.”
  2. Brad Pitt, A River Runs Through It, 1991.  Director Robert Redford loved Norman Maclean’s book about growing up with  his younger brother,  learning the parallels of life and fly-fishing. “I was going to do it one way or the other. Even… from my own pocket.” He didn’t want stars but great intelligence and sensitivity. After thoughts about Hawke, Redford finally saw Paul in Pitt. ”He’s a sensitive person who craves approval. Like Paul.” Odd that Redford never saw himself in Pitt. Brando, Dean, Newman, Nicholson, Redford,.Pitt  – that is the line.

  3. Robert Sean Leonard, Swing Kids, 1992.    Passed the lead rôle of Peter Müller to RSL. Kenneth Branagh refused any credit to avoid being billed above RSL, Christian Bale, and the other kids. They were, said Branagh, the real stars of the film.  

  4. Chris O’Donnell, The Three Musketeers, 1993.     First, a Robin Hood battle, now   two many musketeers… Hawke was the Tri-Star D’Artagnan until Disney’s project won the tussle. Talking of heroes… Hawke had been due as the young Kirk (opposite John Cusack’s Spock) in an early, Starfleet Academy draft of Star Trek V1: The Undiscovered Country, 1991.

  5. Mark Wahlberg, Boogie Nights, 1997.    Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s exploration of the 70s porno biz as a family unit  (Burt Reynolds’ film-maker and Julianne Moore’s porno star being “the parents”) needed a stud called Dirk Diggler. Loosely based on hungalike John C Holmes. Ben Affleck, Christian Bale, Matt Damon (!), Ethan Hawke, Jason Lee and Joachim Phoenix  refused. Idem for, of all people, Vincent Gallo, who performed his own hard-score scene in his Brown Bunny movie in 2002. First choice was Leonardo DiCaprio. He loved the script but had  booked passage on theTitanicand told PTA: “You should get Mark”… who kept his prosthetic penis. (Gallo plainly didn’t need  one).

  6. John Cusack, The Thin Red Line, 1998.    Took part in the March 1995 reading with Kevin Costner, Lukas Haas, Dermot Mulroney and Martin Sheen of auteur Terrence Malik’s script – his first for 17years.3. – Edward Norton, Red Dragon, 2002.     Norton used every penny he made on this film to bankroll 25th Hour– he co-produced with Tobey Maguire and director Spike Lee.
  7. Mark Wahlberg, The Corruptor, 1999.   Shooting  began with Hawke as the rookie cop Danny Wallace. Everything was then shuttered to accommodate the schedule of Chow Yun-Fat, making his US debut as  the first Chinese-born immigrant to join the  NYPD. The pardners deserved better. Like John Woo directing, not James Foley.
  8. James Marsden, X-Men quartet, 1999-2013.    “Mutation: it is the key to our evolution.”  Producer James Cameron and his then wife, director Kathryn Bigelow, chose Michael Biehn  for Scott Summers/Cyclops in the early 90s – and never made the film! James Caviezel won this version before prefering to be Dennis Quaid’s son in Frequency. (Nobody’s perfect).  To be free for Cyclops, Marsden shut the door on  Soul Survivors and slipped  the key toCasey Affleck  – after director Bryan Singer looked at pals Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Ethan Hawke, Thomas Jane (who became Marvel’s The Punisher, in 2003, and opposite Rebecca Romijn, X-Men’s Mystique), Edward Norton (already turned down as Logan/Wolverine), DB Sweeney (he cameoed as a Statue of Liberty guard), Luke Wilson… and Edward Burns, except the last thing a young and opinionated director like Singer wanted on his set was another young and opinionated director.
  9. Tobey Maguire, The Cider House Rules, 1999. Author John Irving went through four directors before settling on the Swedish Lasse Hallström to handle what Roger Ebert called a David Copperfieldish story (or, indeed, stories). For Homer, finally leaving his orphanage and surrogate father Michael Caine (winning his first Oscar), Hallström looked at The Class of ‘97 – Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, James Franco, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton, Ryan Phillippe, Mark Wahlberg, Paul Walker. And chose Leonardo DiCaprio, who passed it to his (monotoned) pal, Maguire. 
  10. Orlando Bloom, The Lords of the Rings triology, 2001-2003.

  11. Edward Norton, Red Dragon, 2002.    Norton used every penny he made on this film to bankroll 25th Hour – he co-produced with Tobey Maguire and director Spike Lee.
  12. Patrick Wilson, The Alamo, 2004.       Quit the role of Colonel William Barett Travis:  “I will guard it with my life, sir.”  Not quite the film that director Ron Howard intended.
  13. Mark Wahlberg, Four Brothers, 2004.     Hawke loved it but was committed elsewhere.   Ben Affleck, Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel, Brad Pitt and Jeremy Renner were in the mix for the head of the brothers avenging the murder of their adoptive mother. Came across like Death Wish meets The Sons of Katie Elder (except John Waye and his real siblings were avenging their Dad’s killing in the 1965 Western). A planned Five Brothers sequel never happened. Thankfully.
  14. Mark Wahlberg, The Departed, 2005.   Change  of  Sergeant Sean Dignam in the film winning Martin Scorsese his first  Best Direcor Oscar.  Finally!  
  15. Sebastian Blomberg, The Countess, 2008.     As expected, after their Paris romances (Before Sunrise, 1995, and Before Sunset, 2004), French actress-auteur Julie Delpy obviously saw Hawke being part ofher film (and role) about Erzsebet Bathory, the 17th Century serial killer seeking eternal beauty by bathing in the blood of virgins.  He did not agree.
  16. Patrick Wilson, Insidious, 2010.   Hawke rejected the role of Barbara Hershey’s son, Josh Lambert – and yet agreed to the following year’s Sinister, 2011, another genuinely scary horror film made by the same producer and director (Jason Blum and James Wan). Both lead roles had families moving into homes haunted by an entity attacking children. Hershey starred in The Entity, 1981.
  17. Sam Riley, On The Road, 2011.   After abortive  efforts by Jack Kerouac to film  his  novel (with Brando) in 1957,  Francis Coppola finally won the rights 23 years later!  At one time, he wanted  Hawke as the Beat Generation icon opposite Brad Pitt as his pal, Sal Paradise (aka Neal Cassady). By 200l, Coppola decided to simply produce, with Joel Schmacher helming Billy Crudup and Colin Farrell.  Nada, again. Still under the Coppola aegis,   Brazilian director Walter Salles had better luck… 54 years after the book was published! 
  18. Mark Ivanier, A Late Quartet, 2011.  First seen for  Daniel, first chair violinist… alongside second chair Philip Seymour Hoffman, viola player, Catherine Keener and cellist Christopher Walken.  Who’da guessed that a string quartet could be  so dramatic.  Great on stage – off, not so much.  This was the biggest break the Ukranian Ivanir, after cameos for Spielberg’s Schindler’s List,  The  Terminal, Tintin. 
  19. John Cusack, The Numbers Station, 2012.  Thre was as CIA hit man. an extremely pretty cryptologist and a WWII bunker in the UK – wherein they are trapped, yet still expected o save the day. No, Hawke didn’t buy it., either. He dropped out and Cusack filled in, Admirably.
  20. Benedict Cumberbatch, Doctor Strange, 2015.   Discussed, planned, written, re-spun since 1986, always dropped despite scripts from Alex Cox, Wes Craven, Bob Gale, etc, until chosen as the  portal into the supernatural side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.Mads Mikkelsen  was first choice. But that was in in 2013…  Among those laterflown up the flagpole were  TV doctor Patrick Dempsey, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Hamm, Tom Hardy, Ethan Hawke, Jack Huston, Oscar Isaac, Matthew McConaughey, Ewan McGregor, Vincent Price (in 1986!), Keanu Reeves (listed but never approached – how wise!), Justin Theroux. Oh and two Jokers: 2015’s Jared Leto and 2018’s Joachin Phoenix.  Finally, production wisely waited until after Cumberbatch’s Hamlet stagetriumph in London. If Iron Man is Mick Jagger, Strange is Jim Morrison…  and could be head of the MCU when Robert Downey pawned his ironmongery.








 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  20