• Interviews

A Nominated Podcast – HFPA in Conversation: Ethan Hawke Shines a Light on History

Congratulations to HFPA member Lena Base for her L.A. Press Club nomination for the 2021 HFPA in Conversation Podcast with Ethan Hawke in the ‘One-on-One Interview, Film Personalities category’ titled, “HFPA In Conversation: Ethan Hawke Shines a Light on History.”


Golden Globe-nominated actor Ethan Hawke describes himself as an old-fashioned person when it comes to entertainment. He told HFPA journalist Lena Basse that he wouldn’t have made The Good Lord Bird as a limited series unless his wife, producer Ryan Hawke, and producer Jason Blum, would have convinced him it’s a good idea. 

“When I was a kid the miniseries was kind of looked down on as an art form because they never had as much money as movies, they had to be shot much more quickly, there wasn’t as innovative photography, the acting wasn’t as good, the writing wasn’t as good and slowly that’s been changing. So the canvas of what a film can be is changing, it doesn’t have to be two hours long.”

The historical series is based on James McBride’s novel. It tells the story of a fictional boy (Joshua Caleb Johnson) who becomes a member of John Brown’s family of abolitionist soldiers and finds himself in the 1859 raid at Harpers Ferry. “Ryan and Jason really changed my thinking and made me realize that if I really want to tell McBride’s story if I really want to be true to the author then we have to make it a limited series. I never looked at it as television; I just looked at it as a seven-hour indie movie.”

John Brown is a central figure in U.S. history that is just really largely ignored. How did Ethan Hawke become involved to tell his story on screen?

“Trying to tell the truth is part of an artist’s job, right? One of the things that has happened in this country was built on a foundation of a crime. And systemic racism has been a part of the DNA of this country since its inception. John Brown’s grandfather fought alongside George Washington and split with him afterwards over the issue of slavery. This is an ancient problem. A lot of people knew how unethical it was to treat other human beings and a lot of people are really greedy and there’s been a war between fear and greed and compassion and brotherhood, right? That balance is always struggling.” 

Listen to the podcast and hear what keeps him sane during the pandemic; what has been one of his favorite days as an actor; how was it working with his daughter; who helped him to become an actor; what he thinks about his name and how it has affected his life; what he realized a few years ago when he watched his old movie with River PhoenixExplorersRobin Williams in Dead Poets SocietyReality BitesBefore Sunrise would be successful; how was it working with Richard Linklater multiple times; is he optimistic?; how was it playing Hamlet; what he says about his upcoming movie, The Northman