Ethan Hawke: Marvel Is ‘Extremely Actor-Friendly’ but ‘Might Not Be Director-Friendly’

Ethan Hawke joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe earlier this year in the Disney+ series “Moon Knight,” where he played the villainous cult leader Arthur Harrow. For fans of the actor, Hawke’s decision to join the MCU was a surprise given that he spoke critically of the comic book genre in the past. The actor’s main gripe was with critics for propping up comic book films as if they’re art films. Hawke said in a new interview with IndieWire that it’s not “stuck up” to think this way.

“It needs to be somebody in the community saying, ‘Hey, everybody, this is not ‘Fanny and Alexander,’” Hawke said, noting that he doesn’t mind directors such as Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola being critical of Marvel movies. “If you keep reviewing these movies that are basically made for 14-year-olds like they’re ‘Fanny and Alexander’ or ‘Winter Light,’ then who the hell’s going to get to make ‘Winter Light’?”

“I appreciate the elder statesmen of the community reminding people not to set the bar too low,” Hawke added. “I know it makes some people think they’re stuck up, but they’re not stuck up.”

As for his own experience working in the Marvel Cinematic Universe on “Moon Knight,” Hawke maintained that the studio gave him and his co-star Oscar Isaac a ton of freedom when it came to their performances. The actor remains unsure if directors in the MCU get as much freedom.

“That group of people [at Marvel] is extremely actor-friendly. They might not be director-friendly, and that could be what Scorsese and Coppola are talking about. But they love actors,” Hawke said. “I think Kevin Feige had a great thing happen with Robert Downey Jr. and he understood that Downey’s passion was a large part of the success. When actors are excited by a part, audiences get excited about watching them. Feige understood the algorithm there, so they’re extremely respectful toward the process. The best thing about ‘Moon Knight’ for me was Oscar’s performance. It’s a gonzo thing that happens to have a giant budget — a pretty out-there performance.”

When asked by IndieWire if he worried about getting sucked into the MCU for a long time, Hawke responded, “I’m not supposed to talk about it. I had to sign an NDA about dealing with them, but I’m not interested in long-term commitments. I protected myself because I didn’t know what it was going to be. I just wanted to know what that sandbox was like. And it’s what young people are watching, so why are we going to sit there and tell them it’s not good?”

“Moon Knight” is now streaming on Disney+.

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