Ethan Hawke directed "Wildcat," which stars daughter Maya Hawke as novelist Flannery O'Connor
As Ethan, 52, introduced Wildcat, his new movie he directed starring Maya, 25, in Toronto Monday, he praised Maya's "blistering intelligence and commitment" in her role as novelist Flannery O'Connor.
“Most of all, I want to thank you for the job,” Ethan said, generating laughter from the film festival audience. (She is an executive producer on the project.) “She hired me and I did my best to come through for you."
"If you see anything else tonight, you’re going to see a young artist just circle around their father, sprint out the door and pat him on the ass as she goes by," added Ethan. "This is one of my favorite performances I’ve ever seen and I can’t wait for you guys to see it.”
Wildcat stars the Stranger Things actress as O'Connor in a film that "[imagines] the young writer as she perfects her process, committing to her unique and deeply personal fiction at the cost of her own comfort and contentment," according to an official festival description.
The father-daughter filmmaking duo (Ethan shares Maya with his ex-wife Uma Thurman) were able to appear in Toronto on Monday during the ongoing Screen Actors Guild strike due to Wildcat's interim agreement with the guild.
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As the pair spoke with PEOPLE on the red carpet Monday, Maya said "the making of the film was unspeakably special and one of the greatest experiences of my life."
"To get to be at this festival and to have a waiver and approval from our union during a strike to be here and celebrate film and independent film and to get to see this movie with an audience, which is so rare now, is just the ultimate privilege and I feel so, so lucky to be here today, for a variety of reasons," she said. Ethan added, “Ditto."
The new movie marks Ethan's fifth time directing a feature film; he also directed the 2022 docuseries The Last Movie Stars, which focused on Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward's life and relationship.
Wildcat also stars Laura Linney, Philip Ettinger, Rafael Casal, Cooper Hoffman (Licorice Pizza), Steve Zahn (The White Lotus), Vincent D'Onofrio, Alessandro Nivola, Christine Dye and Willa Fitzgerald.
Wildcat made its world premiere at the Telluride International Film Festival on Sept. 1. The film does not yet have a release date.
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