The Walking Life: A Brief History of the Hawke 'n' Talk
Aaron Sorkin may be the inventor of the walk-and-talk (remember those quip-filled White House strolls in The West Wing?), but only Ethan Hawke can be the undisputed master of the Hawke N’ Talk, a staple of the actor’s lengthy filmography. What is a Hawke N’ Talk? Exactly what it sounds like: a lengthy, in-motion monologue in which Hawke sounds off about any number of subjects, from the nature of love to the benefits of inaction vs. action. Among the many admirers of the Hawke N’ Talk is Hawke’s regular collaborator Richard Linklater, who admits to being on the listening end of many such monologues with the star in the real world. As he recently told Yahoo Movies’ Mary Kaye Schilling, “When I first met Ethan, we just started talking, and we’ve been talking ever since.” In honor of the duo’s latest team-up, Boyhood (which has a pretty a great Hawke N’ Talk itself), here are some of the finest examples of Hawke’s signature speech pattern.
Reality Bites (1994)
Hawke’s Alter Ego: Era-defining, flannel-wearing slacker heartthrob, Troy.
Topic: Troy’s checkered employment history.
Listener: Winona Ryder’s winsome dream girl, Lelaina.
Location: Downtown Houston
Key Line(s): "In total, he has been fired from—yes, count them—12 jobs."
Does It Go the Distance? While this early Hawke N’ Talk is more focused and less rambling than later editions, it’s a strong trial run for the lengthier, more philosophically-inclined versions that would follow.
Before Sunrise (1995)
Hawke’s Alter Ego: Young American abroad, Jesse.
Topic: Parents, man. They just can’t seem to do anything right.
Listener: Julie Delpy’s idealistic Celine.
Location: A Viennese amusement park.
Key Line(s): "My parents are just these two people who didn’t like each other very much, who decided to get married and have a kid. And they tried their best to be nice to me."
Does It Go the Distance? Back when we were his age, Jesse’s rant earned him a big “Right on.” These days, though, he kinda comes off like a whiny, entitled twit. Maybe that’s just because deep down, we know that our own kids will talk about us that way one day.
Hawke’s Alter Ego: Hotshot prince of New York and heir to the giant Denmark Corporation, Hamlet.
Topic: To off himself rather than be forced to confront injustice — or fight back against the various “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”
Listener: The audience
Location: The most ancient of all locations: a video rental store.
Key Line(s): "For in that sleep of death, what dreams my come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause."
Does It Go the Distance? Shakespeare would be honored to know that his most famous soliloquy paved the way for what’s quite possibly the greatest Hawke N’ Talk ever.