Long underestimated by Hollywood, Ethan Hawke has recently emerged as an actor of surprising mainstream appeal. In the last year, he’s had tremendous success with Sinister and The Purge, a pair of modest $3 million productions that went on to gross $77 million and $84 million respectively. However, Hawke reserves his greatest passion for his longstanding collaboration with director Richard Linklater. The close friends have made eight films together, most famously the Before trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight), which charts the trajectory of a relationship over the course of 18 years. However, that isn’t the only Hawke-Linklater collaboration that has spanned more than a decade.
In the summer of 2002, Linklater began production on Boyhood, a film that follows the development of a child from the age of 6 to 18. Rather than resort to the usual tricks to show this evolution—such as casting several actors to play the same character at different ages—Linklater decided to shoot the film in real time, reuniting his cast and crew every year to shoot another segment of the film. As a result, the effects of time are evident everywhere: on the actors’ faces, the locations, the costumes, etc.
Hawke plays the boy’s father in the film (Patricia Arquette plays the mother) and he recently completed his scenes—after 11 years in production. Speaking to The Huffington Post in support of his new film (Getaway), Hawke called Boyhood “the most truly original, revolutionary thing” he’s ever been a part of, adding that it should appear on the festival circuit some time in 2014. “The first scene I did was with a seven-year-old boy,” he said. “I take this seven-year-old boy bowling—and I’m chain smoking in a bowling alley, which was legal then. And I finished yesterday and I’m 42 years old—I was 33 when I did my first scene—he’s 19. He’s a grown man! He’s got crazy earrings and he’s taller than me and he’s intimidating. Just acting in the movie felt like nothing I’ve ever done.”