Ethan Green Hawke is an American 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. He made his film debut with the 1985 science fiction feature Explorers, before making a breakthrough appearance in the 1989 drama Dead Poets Society. Take a look below for 40 more fun and interesting facts about Ethan Hawke.
1. Hawke was born in 1970 in Austin, Texas, to Leslie, a charity worker, and James Hawke, an insurance actuary.
2. Hawke’s parents were high school sweethearts in Fort Worth, Texas, and married young, when Hawke’s mother was 17.
3. Hawke was born a year later.
4. Hawke’s parents were both students at the University of Texas at Austin at the time of his birth.
5. They separated and later divorced in 1974, when he was four years old.
6. After the separation, Hawke was raised by his mother.
7. The two relocated several times, before settling in New York City, where Hawke attended the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights.
8. Hawke’s mother remarried when he was 10 and the family moved to West Windsor Township, New Jersey.
9. There Hawke attended the public West Windsor Plainsboro High School (renamed to West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South in 1997).
10. He later transferred to the Hun School of Princeton, a secondary boarding school, from which he graduated in 1988.
11. In high school, Hawke aspired to be a writer, but developed an interest in acting.
12. He made his stage debut at age 13, in a production at The McCarter Theatre of George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan.
13. He also performed in West Windsor-Plainsboro High School productions of Meet Me in St. Louis and You Can’t Take It with You.
14. At the Hun School, he took acting classes at the McCarter Theatre, located on the Princeton campus.
15. After graduation from high school, he studied acting at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, dropping out after he was cast in Dead Poets Society (1989).
16. He enrolled in New York University’s English program for two years, but dropped out to pursue other acting roles.
17. Hawke obtained his mother’s permission to attend his first casting call at the age of 14, and secured his first film role in Joe Dante’s Explorers, in which he played an alien-obsessed schoolboy alongside River Phoenix.
18. In 1989, Hawke made his breakthrough appearance in Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society, playing one of the students taught by Robin Williams as a charismatic English teacher.
19. Hawke lives in Boerum Hill, a Brooklyn neighborhood in New York City, and owns a small island in Nova Scotia, Canada.
20. Hawke is a great-nephew of Tennessee Williams on his father’s side.
21. Hawke’s maternal grandfather, Howard Lemuel Green, served five terms in the Texas Legislature and was a minor-league baseball commissioner.
22. On May 1, 1998, Hawke married actress Uma Thurman, whom he had met on the set of Gattaca in 1996.
23. They have two children: daughter Maya (b. 1998) and son Levon (b. 2002).
24. The couple separated in 2003, amid allegations of Hawke’s infidelity, and filed for divorce the following year.
25. The divorce was finalized in August 2005.
26. Hawke married for a second time in June 2008 to Ryan Shawhughes, who had briefly worked as a nanny to his and Thurman’s children before graduating from Columbia University.
27. Dismissing speculation about their relationship, Hawke said, “… my [first] marriage disintegrated due to many pressures, none of which were remotely connected to Ryan.” They have two daughters.
28. Hawke identifies as a feminist and has criticized “the movie business [being] such a boys’ club.”
29. Hawke has repeatedly denounced what he perceives to be an overemphasis placed on the importance of monogamy in romantic relationships: “People have such a childish view of monogamy and fidelity. ‘He’s cheated so he’s bad, she’s cheated so she’s bad’, as opposed to a recognition that our species is not monogamous… Sexual fidelity can’t be the whole thing you hang your relationship on. If you really love somebody you want them to grow, but you don’t get to define how that happens. They do.”
30. As a teenager, Hawke was an active participant in the youth program at Trinity Episcopal Church in Princeton, then under the leadership of the Rev. Joanne Epply-Schmidt.
31. Hawke is a long-time supporter of the Doe Fund which helps homeless people obtain housing and employment.
32. He has served as a co-chair of the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Committee, one of New York’s major philanthropic boards.
33. In 2001, Hawke co-founded the Young Lions Fiction Award, an annual prize for achievements in fiction writing by authors under age 35.
34. In November 2010, he was honored as a Library Lion by the New York Public Library. In May 2016, Hawke joined the library’s board of trustees.
35. Hawke supports the United States Democratic Party, and supported Bill Bradley, John Kerry, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton for President of the United States in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2016, respectively.
36. Hawke is also an activist for gay rights and in March 2011, he and his wife released a video supporting same-sex marriage in New York.
37. In an October 2012 interview, Hawke said that he prefers great art over politics, explaining that his preference shows “how little” he cares about the latter; “I think about the first people of our generation to do great art. I see Michael Chabon write a great book; when I see Philip Seymour Hoffman do Death of a Salesman last year—I see people of my generation being fully realized in their work, and I find that really kind of exciting. But politics? I don’t know. Paul Ryan is certainly not my man.”
38. Hawke has described theater as his “first love”, a place where he is “free to be more creative”.
39. Hawke made his Broadway debut in 1992, portraying the playwright Konstantin Treplev in Anton Chekhov‘s The Seagull at the Lyceum Theater in Manhattan.
40. In 2019, Hawke returned to Broadway in the revival of Sam Shepard’s True West, co-starring Paul Dano. The show was met with critical acclaim. It received the Critic’s Pick from The New York Times.