Debonair, distinguished, and tragically no longer sporting the absolute bird nest of a beard that he rocked in the critically-acclaimed 2020 miniseries The Good Lord Bird, Ethan Hawke, the ‘90s dreamboat and current star of Netflix’s Leave the World Behind, was born Nov. 6, 1970. This makes him many things: A Scorpio, a Gen X-er, and, most pertinently, 53 years old.
Hawke has experienced a whirlwind career in his just-a-kiss-over half a century on Earth. He was 14 when he tried out for his first movie, 1985’s Explorers. He was 19 when he debuted in the role that kickstarted his career, Dead Poets Society, in 1989. Considering backing off of his work in the talkies, he found the momentum that he’d built too compelling. At 21, he took on his first starring role in 1991’s White Fang, and at 24, he carved his initials permanently into the pathos of Generation X with the perennial classic Reality Bites, alongside Ben Stiller and Winona Ryder. At 31, in 2002, Hawke started filming Boyhood. He was 43 when it hit theaters.
He was 24, 33, and 42 when Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight came out, respectively. He was 27 on May 1, 1998, when he married Uma Thurman. He was 34 in August of 2005 when their divorce was finalized.
In the summer of 2012, at 41 years old, Ethan Hawke didn’t appear in Len Wiseman’s remake of Total Recall, on account of his part being cut from the theatrical release. The next year, at 42 years old, he didn’t appear in Pacific Rim, on account of not being cast in it. It was one of several dozen movies from 2013 that Hawke wouldn’t appear in. It was weird of us to bring it up, forget we mentioned it. All we want to say is that the Oscar-nominated actor has led a full life.
The 53 ages of Ethan Hawke, cont.
Hawke did, however, star in the first Purge movie that year, helping to launch a franchise that people still think about any time they have to stand in line for more than two minutes or listen to door-to-door missionaries talk to them politely. It was part of Hawke’s later-adult career shift toward thrillers, including high-profile hits like 2012’s Sinister and The Black Phone in 2021
In 2022, at age 51, Hawke did what all working actors must eventually do and took part in an MCU streaming series, portraying the seductively villainous Arthur Harrow with stunning calm and minimalism against the many voices of Oscar Isaac. Critics noted his performance with near-universal acclaim, calling him a high point in a unique addition to the Marvel canon. That same year, he crossed the Marvel/DC fence, proving that he was a child of all pop culture nations when he began to voice Batman on the HBO children’s series Batwheels, an animated mashup of the Dark Knight and Pixar’s Cars franchise.
Ethan Hawke’s ‘last act’
In 2023, at 53 years old, Hawke starred alongside Julia Roberts and Kevin Bacon in Netflix’s post-apocalyptic end-of-year extravaganza, Leave the World Behind. Maybe it was the fact that a lot of folks hadn’t seen Hawke’s above-pictured beard from The Good Lord Bird, which looked supple and soft to the touch, but also old as the hills. Maybe we all just lost track of the fact that Dead Poets Society came out seven presidential administrations ago, and that time takes its toll. Whatever the reason, viewers expressed disbelief at the Academy Award-nominated performer’s perceived advanced age. He was a hip, modernized Hamlet what felt like five minutes ago. This brings up another important point: Julia Stiles, his hip, modernized Ophelia, is 42 years old now. What is happening to this world?
For his part, Hawke has been open about the process of aging in Hollywood, something he described as “a weird riddle” in a 2022 interview with Bang Showbiz NZ. “(…) the good news is, the opportunities get better,” he confided. “The bad news is there aren’t as many of them.” Later that year, Hawke told IndieWire that he felt confident that he was in “the last act” of his career, musing on a near 40-year filmography and which opportunities he should have shot down. “I’ve definitely made the turn from being an old young person to being a young old person,” he opined. For what it’s worth, it’s hardly noticeable — that is unless he plans to flaunt that beard again.