I love and am inspired by the writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner. Her article on Ethan Hawke last year was so remarkable that I still think about it from time to time. I don’t think about articles from the past at all typically. The beginning of the article just jumps off of the page.
Now he’s 47, but when he was much younger, Ethan Hawke read “Cassavetes on Cassavetes,” the indie filmmaker bible, and then went to hear the author’s widow, Gena Rowlands, speak. She looked out at the crowd and laughed. She said John Cassavetes was always disappointed because nobody would finance his movies; he’d always felt dismissed and disregarded. “‘And now here you guys are making a big deal out of him,’” he remembered her saying. She said that was nice, but that they shouldn’t miss the point. “‘Make a big deal of yourself.’ You know? Whatever indifference the world gives you, he felt it, too. So you’re just as good as he is. Like, go out and do it.”
Mr. Hawke found that so moving, the idea of ignoring what the world was telling you about yourself and instead living only by standards that you had, yourself, carefully defined for your life and work. He vowed right then that he would do whatever it took to make good art on his own terms, no matter what anyone said. He would take himself seriously, even if no one else did.