A Minute With: Ethan Hawke on acting, Selena Gomez and Shakespeare

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After taking time away to focus on family and stage acting, Ethan Hawke is getting back to film and stepping into the driver’s seat in his latest role as a racecar driver trapped in a car and racing against time in the action-thriller “Getaway.”

Cast member Ethan Hawke poses at the premiere of "Getaway" in Los Angeles, California August 26, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

“Getaway,” which will be released in U.S. theaters on Friday, also stars former Disney actress and pop singer Selena Gomez, who plays a tech-savvy teenager.

The film comes on the heels of a string of box office successes for Hawke, including 2012 indie horror film “Sinister” and this year’s surprise horror hit “The Purge.”

Hawke, 42, also reunited with director Richard Linklater and French actress Julie Delpy for “Before Midnight,” released in May, the third installment in the story of a couple who first met in the 1995 drama “Before Sunrise.”

The actor spoke to Reuters about working with Gomez, acting in horror films and finding dream roles while in his 40s.

Q: “Getaway” explores a more intimate setting by trapping your character in a car. Did it put pressure on you to convey more emotion?

A: What’s fun about this movie is that in any given take, there were 12 cameras mounted on this car to get all these crazy angles, and it’s something I’ve never done before. ... It’s a hard balance inside any action movie, to try to bring any authenticity of emotion and human behavior to these outlandish circumstances. One thing I enjoyed about the simplicity of being stuck in this car, it let Selena and I have fun.

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Q: How different is Hollywood today compared to when you were Gomez’s age, in your early 20s?

A: It’s a very difficult landscape she’s trying to navigate right now. I think it’s much more difficult today to be a young person and grow up. The constant buzz and pressure and noise and static of the Internet, and the way it makes young people feel makes it difficult to grow up and develop the way one might want to. I’m very grateful that when I was first going through this in the early ‘90s, it was much easier, but that said, the basic facts of it have always been dangerous.

I’ll be curious to see, she’s at a really interesting moment in her life. Is she going to continue to be a musician, is she going to develop as an actress, is she (going to) continue to do both? It’s so hard for every young person, trying to figure out the adult you want to be.

Q: You made “Before Sunrise” when you were in your mid-20s, “Before Sunset” in your mid-30s and “Before Midnight” in your early 40s. How does it feel to have these films mark different decades in your career?

A: It’s a very strange feeling, it really is. These aren’t just movies to me - I co-wrote them, so much of those movies are so unique to issues that Julie (Delpy) and I are both interested in. Having people relate to them is such a wonderful feeling; it’s the reason why I wanted to be an actor.

Q: You’ve been in two successful horror movies in the past two years, “Sinister” and “The Purge.” What do you enjoy the most about working on horror films?

A: Inside the genre of being scary, you can almost talk about anything you want. “The Purge” has huge socio-political undertones, but it’s not a political film - it’s a scary film. But it lets you make a movie that gets seen, and lets you speak to audiences in a way that I think is really interesting.

Q: You are now in your fourth decade acting. Do you still have any dream roles you would love to play?

A: Oh yes, I’m getting to do one right now. I’m about to start rehearsals for “Macbeth” at Lincoln Center (in New York). It’s something I’ve longed to do my whole life, to do one of the big Shakespeares in a really serious production.

Q: You played Hamlet in 2000. Usually people say an actor’s career is marked by playing Shakespeare’s great tragic heroes Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear.

A: So I must be 40 now! I’m on my way to Lear!

Editing by Eric Kelsey and Peter Cooney