Ethan Hawke, the actor recently nominated for an Oscar for Boyhood, is back in theaters—but this time he’s behind the camera.
The documentary Seymour: An Introduction is Hawke’s latest unexpected creative endeavor, after two novels and several stints onstage. The actor, who got his start as a teenager in Dead Poets Society, uses his new film to show the virtue of stepping out of the limelight. Seymour is Seymour Bernstein, Hawke’s friend and a celebrated concert pianist who left performing behind in order to teach. The film, in theaters March 13, depicts Bernstein’s memories of a long life well-lived, as well as the bond between Bernstein and Hawke; the actor confesses to Bernstein his career anxieties and struggles with stage fright.
Hawke is an open book. Asked how he responds to charges that his various less-than-commercial endeavors add up to James Franco-ish pretensions, the actor is forthcoming: “I’ve been accused of being pretentious my whole life, rightfully so.” As for whether or not he, like Bernstein, will eventually recede from public life? “I think there’s a healthy part of anyone who’s a professional actor that has a little Greta Garbo in them. You know, if you want it too bad, you have another set of problems.” For now, though, he’s never been more productive—or more successful.
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