Ethan Hawke took center stage at the San Sebastian International Film Festival on Saturday, picking up the Donostia Award for lifetime achievement at a special screening of his latest film, The Magnificent Seven.
"For me, cinema is the church of my choice and festivals like this are holy institutions. Film festivals are a barometer of collective health in our culture," the actor said as he thanked the festival before a packed theater at the Kursaal center.
Earlier in the day, Hawke fielded questions that found him talking about Donald Trump, diversity, Denzel Washington and how he envisions the rest of his career.
When asked about the message of Antoine Fuqua's remake of the Western classic and whether he thought the Republican presidential candidate would like it, Hawke responded: "I bet Donald Trump would like it. But he might not realize that what the film is actually about is a group of people getting together to defeat him."
The actor also emphasized the subtlety and efficiency of the Magnificent Seven remake.
"I think one of the best ways to speak about diversity is to make a movie with a bunch of people from different cultures and make something beautiful," Hawke said, mentioning co-stars Washington, Vincent D'Onofrio and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. "It's great the movie doesn't talk about race, just shows it. Like any good genre movie, it doesn't speak directly about the subtext."
The actor repeatedly applauded Fuqua's decision to understate the theme of diversity and let the scenes speak for themselves. "If Clint Eastwood walks into a room and everyone stops, it's because he's a gunslinger," said Hawke. "If Denzel walks into a room and everyone stops, you don't know why."
Hawke praised Washington as one of the "very few great movie stars who are great artists" and who has done it "even with the albatross of race being thrown at him, which I'm sure gets very boring."
Hawke also hinted at his urge to get into the director's chair, saying he is increasingly drawn to the art of acting and "being different people, playing different roles," but that he "would be lying if I didn't say that I hope the next time I come back to San Sebastian is with a film I directed."
The actor spoke of his graphic novel Indeh, about the Apache leader Geronimo, and said he'd love to play the "background character" in a movie about the Cherokee, starring a Native American.
Hawke wrapped the press conference when asked what the cover of the graphic novel of his life would look like.
"I hope it would be me playing my greatest role as King Lear at 97," he said. "That's what I hope. Big grey hair and covered in wrinkles. God, no!"
San Sebastian Festival (photo credit: Pamela Rolfe)