Ethan Hawke thought the sun had set on the ‘Before’ trilogy before it even hit theaters.
In a discussion with Daveed Diggs for Interview magazine, Hawke admitted that he “didn’t even know” whether audiences would be interested in his “Before” trilogy of films, which began in 1995 with “Before Sunrise.”
“It’s not that I don’t want compliments and prizes and money and fire engines. I want it all, but I know how to listen to the river, like listening to my own voice,” Hawke said. they were going to come out. Part of my brain thought, ‘Oh, people are going to love this.’ And another part of me thought, ‘No one is going to be interested in this.’ I didn’t care, I knew I cared and I can hear that voice.
Hawke added: “But every time in my life I try to sell out, when I say, ‘Oh, this is going to be a hit,’ every time I try to do that I fall on my ass. Totally wrong every time.
Richard Linklater’s beloved film ‘Before Sunrise’ subsequently spurred sequels ‘Before Sunset’ and ‘Before Midnight’, with a fourth film anticipated as part of an ‘After’ series in 2020. ‘Boyhood’s groundbreaking cinematic tactic’ is set to be replicated for Linklater’s adaptation “Merrily We Roll Along” starring Paul Mescal and Beanie Feldstein.
Hawke noted that, like Linklater, he follows other ambitious figures like Bob Dylan and Spike Lee when he holds his ground.
“I always have the feeling that Bob Dylan is true to himself and that millions of people care,” Hawke said. “Spike Lee always seems to be working for himself and some of the movies have been successful and some have not, but you can tell they all mean the same. It comes from the same creative force”.
Hawke previously shared that Linklater assured him audiences would “care” about “Before Sunrise” as the human connection at the center of the largely improvised film with Julie Delpy grounded the story.
“’I don’t want you to worry too much about the script. I’m inviting you to direct with me,’” Hawke recalls Linklater telling him. “’All my life I went to the movies and there was spying and shooting and helicopters, all this action. All I see is all this drama, (so much) that you would think my life, our lives, has no drama. That’s not how I feel. My life seems very exciting to me and I have never been involved in a chase or a shootout. My life is exciting to me. And what is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me? Connecting with another human being… If we can get that on screen, I think people will care.’”
Hawke summed it up in 2020: “Really what he’s saying is that we are enough. It’s a difficult thing for us, as people, to understand that. We are interesting. We are precious. You are special from the moment you are born. In its essence, the film says that people who bear witness to each other have tremendous power. Sometimes I leave “Harry Potter” or “Avatar” and feel sad because I have no superpowers or magic. But I think Rick’s movies make you realize that your life is magical.