Ethan Hawke Recalls He 'Doubled Down on the Life of an Actor' amid 'Bad Press' from Uma Thurman Divorce

Ethan Hawke got candid about how his personal life affected his career — a lesson he hopes daughter Maya learns as she follows in her parents' footsteps

Ethan Hawke attends the Premiere Of Marvel Studios' "Moon Knight" at El Capitan Theatre on March 22, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Ethan Hawke. Photo: Tommaso Boddi/WireImage

Ethan Hawke is speaking candidly about how his personal life has affected his long and successful career over the years – a theme similarly found in his new six-part HBO Max docuseries The Last Movie Stars that explores the love story of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

In an interview with IndieWire published Tuesday, Hawke, 51, was asked about his public 2005 divorce from Uma Thurman.

When asked what helped him get through that time, Hawke pointed to his professional life rather than his personal: "The answer is always work."

The Moon Knight actor said, "If you're worried everybody has superficial interests, then you have to give them something substantive to talk about."

"In the years after my divorce, I doubled down on the life of an actor. I did Hurly Burly, I did The Coast of Utopia, I did The Bridge Project and took Chekhov and Shakespeare around the world for a year," Hawke continued.

He noted, "I just decided that no amount of bad press will turn me into a bad actor if I don't let it."

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Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman
Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. DMIPhoto/FilmMagic

On not being taken seriously, especially given the media storm that was more focused on his personal life than his career, Hawke told IndieWire, "I always look back at the periods that I perceived as the hardest as being the ones with the most growth."

"It seems funny, but there was a period right before Training Day where I couldn't get a f---ing job because I was the Gen-X poster boy and everyone thought they knew me," he lamented.

Hawke said hard work and perseverance are what help further your career after being boxed into a single category or role.

"I'm sure if you talk to Matt Dillon or [Leonardo] DiCaprio — anybody who's had young success — they'll acknowledge that you hit these walls where people think they've figured you out and then they're done with you," he explained. "You have to be willing to be humble enough to keep getting up to the plate."

RELATED VIDEO: Ethan Hawke Reveals What Got Him Out of His Depression After His Divorce from Uma Thurman

These are career lessons that Hawke is passing down to his daughter with Thurman, Maya Hawke, who is following in her famous parents' footsteps.

"I'm always telling this to my daughter Maya: It's not just about this job. It's about this ability to express yourself. It's like a spider web. There's this job, there's that job, and that job. You step back 15 years later and there starts to be a career."

Hawke had kept his daughter away from acting when she was younger, wanting her to make the decision for herself over being in the spotlight, Maya, 24, previously told The Guardian.

She shared, "They wanted to ensure I had a strong enough backbone, my own passion for it and work ethic. They didn't want to cart me along every red carpet or have me do bit-parts in their movies."

Ethan (R) and Maya Hawke.

Deciding that acting was her own passion, Maya joined the cast of Netflix's Stranger Things during the third season to play fan favorite Robin Buckley, which has made her dad "so proud."

"I'm so proud of her," Hawke said during his IndieWire interview when asked about her role on the show. "I think Maya does a great job on it and [the] show's so fun. I have one episode left."

He also talked about his unique tie to the 2016 pilot, which sees Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) go missing in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, on Nov. 6, 1983, setting the scene for the rest of the series.

"I feel strangely connected to that show because that whole episode with the first kid getting sucked into the Upside Down happens on what was my 13th birthday in 1983, which was the year I made Explorers, so I'm in the universe," Hawke said.

The Last Movie Stars debuts Thursday on HBO Max.

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