Ethan Hawke Knew the Risks of Directing His Daughter Maya in ‘Wildcat’: ‘No One Wants to See Family Art’

Is the nepo-baby conversation over or have we just landed in a place of acceptance? Ethan Hawke understands the challenge of perception in regards to this identifier and his upcoming collaboration with daughter, Maya Hawke, in the film “Wildcat” — but he’s still pushing audiences to give this Flannery O’Connor biopic a chance. On a recent episode of CNN’s “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?”, Hawke explores different aspects of his career that led him to this moment and why he hopes “Wildcat” will play as more than just a “home movie.”

“The biggest challenge is releasing the movie, giving it to the public, because I knew the dad daughter act is not cute,” the elder Hawke said of his decision to cast his daughter in the biopic, which he directs. “I love working with my daughter. That doesn’t mean somebody should pay money to spend a minute of their time watching. Nobody wants to see family art.”

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And yet, to Hawke, family seems to be something of intrinsic and unquantifiable value. In describing his daughter Maya, he calls her, “Breathtakingly intelligent. And interesting to talk to. And it’s been fascinating to watch her develop into a very serious artisan. And she had a passion for Flannery O’Connor. For her, for what it’s like as a young woman to try to aspire for excellence in your work. And I think that she was taken with her writing and saw an avenue to create a character that she hadn’t seen before. And I’m an actor, and that turns me on.”

Drawing comparison to his own life in acting, Hawke was reminded of lessons his own mother had passed down to him as he was rising to fame at such a young age in hit films like “Dead Poets Society” and “White Fang” and how they may apply to Maya’s career now.

My mother thought that there was something intrinsically fake about the life of celebrities, the public life,” he said. “She really impressed that on me that it’s not about convincing other people that you’re interesting. It’s about being interesting. And so I was very nervous about being a washed-up teen idol. You know, and I didn’t want to let that happen and I was nervous about it from the get-go.”

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