Ethan Hawke Reveals Denzel Washington's Oscar-Winning Advice

Exploring Ethan Hawke's reflections on career and mentorship

by Zain ul Abedin
Ethan Hawke Reveals Denzel Washington's Oscar-Winning Advice
© Ferda Demir/Getty Images

In an insightful exchange on Max’s "Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace," Ethan Hawke shared a transformative piece of advice from Denzel Washington, his co-star in the gritty 2001 drama "Training Day." Reflecting on their time at the 2002 Academy Awards, where both actors were nominees, Hawke illuminated a moment that redefined his view of success in Hollywood.

Hawke, who was up for Best Supporting Actor, was overshadowed by Jim Broadbent for his role in "Iris." Meanwhile, Washington clinched the Best Actor accolade. During this pivotal event, Washington imparted a profound insight to Hawke.

“You don’t want an award to improve your status. You want to improve the award’s status,” Washington whispered, a statement encapsulating his philosophical approach to his craft. The conversation revealed much about Hawke's admiration for Washington.

Describing him as "the greatest actor of our generation," Hawke expressed that the Oscars hold greater esteem because of recipients like Washington, rather than defining them. This perspective reshapes the typical ambition-driven narrative often associated with Hollywood's elite accolades.

Hawke's Oscar Reflections

Further delving into their dynamic, Hawke likened his experience working with Washington to playing baseball with the legendary Babe Ruth, highlighting the extraordinary caliber of Washington’s presence both on and off the screen.

This comparison not only elevated Washington’s status in Hawke's eyes but also emphasized the impact of such associations on an actor’s career. Despite the disappointment of not winning, Hawke reflected on his nomination with a sense of fulfillment and gratitude.

Seated next to Washington and competing against esteemed actors like Ian McKellen, he felt victorious in the broader spectrum of his career. “I was at the Oscars sitting next to Denzel Washington and nominated against Ian McKellen.

I had already won. It was impossible for me not to see it any other way,” he stated. "Training Day," directed by Antoine Fuqua, is a narrative that delves deep into the moral complexities faced by a rookie cop under the tutelage of a rogue detective in Los Angeles.

This film challenged its actors and left a lasting impression on its audience, further cemented by the profound interactions behind the scenes.