A Minute With: Ethan Hawke on lessons from Robin Williams

Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:29am EDT
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By Solarina Ho

TORONTO (Reuters) - It has been more than 25 years since a young Ethan Hawke stepped on his desk to salute his teacher, portrayed by Robin Williams, in "Dead Poets Society."

Hawke, 43, has taken on some 50 roles since and this year received his third Oscar nod for best adapted screenplay for "Before Midnight," shared with Richard Linklater and Julie Delpy.

His 12-year "Boyhood" project with Linklater has won critical praise, while his documentary on classical pianist Seymour Bernstein has also been warmly received at recent film festivals.

Hawke spoke with Reuters about "Seymour: An Introduction," its underlying themes on art and mentorship, and how Williams helped him find his "barbaric yawp."

Q: What were some of the biggest lessons you learned from Seymour?

A: One of the ways that (teachers and mentors) can be most helpful is helping us see our blind spots, when we delude ourselves. It's so hard for us, as people, to have real self-awareness about where we're deluded - little ways in which we lie to ourselves, or have been lying to ourselves for decades. And when you work with somebody who really respects you and who genuinely wants you to grow, you feel that they can help you to see where you're hurting yourself.

Q: Do you think classical music is under appreciated?   Continued...

Director Ethan Hawke poses while promoting his film "Seymour: An Introduction" during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, September 10, 2014.  REUTERS/Mark Blinch