The crowd at Cipriani Wall Street roared when Ethan Hawke took the stage to accept the IFP Gotham Award for Best Actor Monday night. Hawke won for his portrayal of the spiritually conflicted (hot) priest Reverend Toller in First Reformed. When he accepted the award, Hawke thanked his wife, A24, and First Reformed writer-director Paul Schrader, and then he switched gears, offering a rousing rebuke of toxic, partisan leadership, and arguing for the place of art and artists in a time of political disenfranchisement and distress.
“We live in a moment, in a time period, with a void of political and spiritual leadership. In that kind of period, a heavy burden falls to the arts. We, the artistic community — the people in this room and elsewhere — we can transcend minds and open hearts that are normally closed. We must not give into tribal thinking. As members of the artistic community, we are the great generators of empathy and compassion and we have to do our work. We are living in a time period where the environment, education, racial equality … they are being criminally disregarded. It’s a real problem. It’s unacceptable. What my mom always said to me is you don’t have to protect the truth, you have to live in the truth, and it will protect you.”
At the IFP Gotham Awards, Hawke beat out Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Ben Foster (Leave No Trace), and Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You). First Reformed also took home an award for Best Screenplay for Schrader’s script.