Whatever Happened To Ethan Hawke?

There was a time when actor Ethan Hawke was one of the hottest stars in Hollywood. In fact, back in the '90s, he and his then-wife Uma Thurman were arguably the Brangelina of their day. After rising to fame as a teenager in the '80s, he got his big break in the 1989 prep school drama, Dead Poets Society. He later became the face of a generation in the iconic 1994 Gen X film Reality Bites, before meeting Thurman when they co-starred in the '96 sci-fi thriller Gattaca.

However, since the mid-2000s, Hawke has largely been flying under the radar — but that doesn't mean he hasn't been keeping busy. In fact, there's not much the creative jack of all trades hasn't done. He's written three novels and four screenplays and has been nominated for Oscars for both acting and writing ... and those are only his creative achievements. His private life has been no less interesting.

Read on to find out what he's been up to over the past couple of decades.

So long, farewell...

In 2003, Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman seemed to have it all. The couple was among the most glamorous in Hollywood, raising two young children, Maya and Levon, while maintaining burgeoning film careers. But that all changed later that year when, according to the SF Gate, the duo announced they had split amid rumors Hawke had cheated.

Hawke may have had affair with Ryan Shawhughes, a woman who worked as a nanny for the couple, but Hawke has denied cheating with her. Instead, he has chosen to compare the way they met to the central relationship in The Sound of Music, in which character Georg von Trapp falls in love with his children's nanny. But there's a big difference between his situation and Hawke's: In the film, von Trapp's wife is dead.

Regardless, when Hawke was asked by a New York Daily News reporter in 2010 if his situation with Shawhughes had anything in common with Jude Law's alleged affair with a nanny, he replied, "I liken my situation to The Sound of Music, not to Jude Law."

Whether the cheating rumors were true or not, Hawke and Shawhughes began officially dating around the same time his divorce with Thurman was finalized in 2005. In 2008, People magazine reported that the pair secretly tied the knot when she became pregnant with their first child.

The 'most important thing'

Hawke became a father for the first time at the age of 27, and, decades later, the two children he had with Thurman have grown up. Maya has launched a successful modeling and acting career, having been cast in season three of Stranger Things, while Levon, at the time of this writing, is a high school student. Hawke also has two daughters with Shawhughes: Clementine and Indiana.

In a 2014 interview with Nightline, he said that raising children has been the most significant thing he has done. He said, "A lot of things happened in my life over the last decade, but there's only one thing that has really been consistent, and that's them."

He went on, "I would do interviews and stuff, and they ask me about movies ... It's really not what's really happening ever in my life. What's really been happening in my life is being a father. That's been the most important thing."

It sounds like his kids return the sentiment. In a 2014 Us Weekly profile, he revealed, "My kids say I'm the world's best dad."

He never left the big screen

If you're wondering where Ethan Hawke has been, the answer is right under your nose. While Hawke, who has nabbed two Oscar nominations for acting over the years, hasn't starred in a huge number of blockbusters in the past couple of decades, he has never stopped acting. 

He followed up the 1995 indie hit Before Sunrise with the well-received sequels Before Sunset and Before Midnight. He also delved into horror and suspense with the films Daybreakers, Taking Lives, and Sinister. And he's made several critically acclaimed indies including Boyhood, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, and Maudie.

He told the Los Angeles Times of performing in 2017, "Acting pays for my child support. It pays for [my] house. It pays for my editing suite. My insurance. It makes life and because of that, it has a huge weight on it. It's no longer fun in the same way that acting was fun when I did Dead Poets Society."

His directing career is on fire

While everyone knows Hawke from his multitude of acting credits, many might not realize that he's directed a number of films.

He told Deadline in a 2018 interview that he made his first short, Straight to One, as he rose to fame. He explained, "I dropped out of college after Dead Poets Society, and my mother was so upset that she told me I needed to take responsibility for my own education. So, I took a portion of the money I'd made from Poets and made a short film."

Since then, he's directed several more movies, including the three features Chelsea Walls, The Hottest State, and Blaze, and the documentary Seymour: An Introduction.

But if you're worried he'll make a permanent switch from acting to directing, don't worry — that doesn't seem likely. He told Deadline that directing a film is both humbling and brings about "a high like no other," but it's not his primary career path.

He said, "I would love to [direct more films], of course. But, you know, I'm not really a professional director. I'm a professional actor. I really just direct for love, for lack of a better word."

Not-so-secret scribe

Hawke's writing credits alone would be enough to make someone's career. In between raising his four kids while also acting and directing, he has written three novels and four feature-length screenplays. He's even snagged two Academy Award nominations for screenwriting along the way.

Hawke published his debut novel, The Hottest State, in 1996 when he was only 25 years old. A decade later, he turned the book about tortured young love into a feature film, writing the screenplay himself. Then in 2002, he published Ash Wednesday, a novel about complicated relationships, and, in 2015, he came out with a young adult novel that he wrote for his children, Rules for a Knight.

Rules for a Knight is framed around a letter a Medieval knight writes to his children before heading into battle, and Hawke told The Wall Street Journal (via The Guardian) in 2015 that writing the book was a way to communicate with his own kids. He explained, "[It's] fairly difficult to talk about ethics with kids without sounding like you're preaching. ... It became easier to do it in a fictional way."

Hawke also earned two Oscar nominations for writing the screenplays for Before Sunset and Before Midnight with director Richard Linklater and co-star Julie Delpy.

Finding his 'Utopia'

As if he didn't have enough going on, Hawke has also been regularly performing on the Broadway stage since the early days of his acting career. He made his debut on the Great White Way in Anton Chekhov's classic The Seagull in 1992. However, Hawke wasn't exactly an instant success. In fact, he faced some harsh criticism back in the day. During an appearance on The Late Show, he told Stephen Colbert in 2016 that his performance was torn apart in a New York Times review. Hawke quoted the review to Colbert, saying, "Ethan Hawke plays Constantin more concerned with his pimples than his poetry. Perhaps he should spend less time at the Actor's Studio and more time at the dermatologist."

Fortunately, things clearly improved for the actor, as he went on to snag a Tony nomination for his 2007 role in Tom Stoppard's epic 9-hour-long production, The Coast of Utopia.

He was 'with her'

Hawke is a staunch Democrat and has supported Democratic presidential nominees going all the way back to the late '90s. According to USA Today, he and wife Shawhughes brought their baby daughter Clementine to a New York park to celebrate on the night Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. He told the newspaper then, "I haven't seen the country full of this much optimism in so long — at least the city. It's been thrilling."

In a 2016 interview with The Daily Beast, he expressed how excited he was that his daughter Maya would vote for the first time in an election with a female candidate. He said, "It's pretty incredible for me to watch the debates with my 18-year-old daughter." 

In the same conversation, he also slammed then-candidate Donald Trump, saying, "When you see a man, if he wins, threatening to put his opponent in jail? That's fascist behavior." Unsurprisingly, in a 2017 interview with The Guardian, he revealed that he had indeed cast his vote for Hillary Clinton and vented his distaste for the Trump presidency, telling the newspaper, "I cannot get to grips with the fact that my country elected Donald Trump as the president of the United States and now we have him walking around with the nuclear codes."

He owns an island

When Hawke isn't knocking around his home base of Brooklyn, N.Y. with his family, you might find him at his very own island in Nova Scotia, Canada. Yes, you read that right — he owns his own island. But before you think that he's a Hollywood bigwig throwing real estate money around for fun, you have to hear the story about how he ended up owning the island — because it couldn't be more charming.

He wrote in a 2013 Reddit AMA, "I have friends in Nova Scotia ... one of whom was an older woman who could no longer take care of her island, and she asked if I would buy it. A closet in Manhattan costs more than an island in Nova Scotia. So I answered yes. And I'm happy I did."

He revealed that his island features "eagles, and seals, and raccoons, and pine trees for days," and said he likes to sneak up there when he needs to escape from it all. He also makes a point to bring his four children to visit the island at least once a year. Sounds pretty perfect.

He identifies as a feminist

As a man raising three daughters, Ethan Hawke has grown to support women's causes. Having supported democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 United States presidential election, as previously mentioned, Hawke has also outright declared himself a feminist, having given Us Weekly the big news back in 2014.

In 2015, long before the Harvey Weinstein scandal launched the #MeToo movement, he told Larry King that he saw Hollywood as a "boys club." He said, "Let me give you an example. ... I've been making movies for 30 years. I've probably made over 40 movies and this year is the first time I've ever been directed by a woman."

He further explained how he came to identify with women's causes, telling King, "It's fascinating, having three daughters and seeing the world through their eyes. It really does turn you into a feminist." We're glad to hear that Hawke has his priorities in check.

He left the Knicks for the Nets

Hawke said in a 2013 Reddit AMA that he doesn't have hobbies, writing, "I'm one of the handful of people who doesn't want a hobby because I'd rather be doing my job." 

Despite that proclamation, judging by his frequent court-side seats at New York City basketball games, it appears that he's had a long love affair with the sport. According to the New York Daily News, the actor was a longtime Knicks fan, but, after the Nets moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn in 2012 and Hawke moved to the borough the following year, he flipped.

And the NY Daily News reported that he really made his preference known at a Nets-Knicks face-off at Madison Square Garden in 2016. According to the newspaper, when he took his seat, he made a big show of tearing off his shirt to reveal that he was wearing a Brooklyn tee underneath.

The switch makes sense, as Hawke grew up in both Brooklyn and New Jersey.

He's been giving back

Ethan Hawke has shown support for countless organizations over the years, but he recently signed on to a new initiative. In 2017, he began advocating for an organization that was a home away from home for him when he was a kid — the YMCA.

Raised by divorced parents and splitting his time between the Northeast and Texas, Hawke told People magazine in 2017 that both of his parents sent him to their local Y. And, despite being a celebrity with access to any gym of his choice, he's been sending his own kids there too. He told the magazine, "Now I live in Brooklyn and my kids are learning to swim there. My son and I play basketball there."

Hawke pointed out that the organization, which was founded in the 1800s, is a community hub. He explained, "It's not just a gym, it's a place where communities can get together, where people can get college counseling, you can get food ... it's a place where the community can build."