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Ethan Hawke’s Biggest Career Mentors Were Denzel Washington and the Spider from Charlotte’s Web

Even Gen-X sex symbols have Wi-Fi issues sometimes, which is why Ethan Hawke made an appearance on Desus & Mero last night from an empty hotel ballroom in Ireland, which is the spiritual and aesthetic opposite of Desus’s sneaker room in every which way. Hawke is in Ireland filming The Northman, but he was on the show to promote his Showtime historical drama The Good Lord Bird and answer crucial questions about it, like why is the show called that? “It’s when you see a bird and it’s so beautiful, you say, ‘Good lord!’ That’s a good lord bird.” Sure!

Hawke also spoke about two of the biggest influences on his acting career. The first is Denzel Washington, whom he worked with on Training Day, saying, “It was Antoine [Fuqua] and Denzel that changed my career, because I was kind of the Gen-X poster boy of that kind of thing … And I learned on that job what an actor could be. When you see Denzel up close, working on a script, working on his costume, working on the props, working on how he interacts with other people, it’s no joke. It’s seeing an artist really up close. And you can’t unsee that.”

The other major influence is the titular spider from Charlotte’s Web. When Mero asks if Hawke ever takes on projects he doesn’t like for the money, Hawke says, “You remember the famous children’s story about the pig? Wilbur? Charlotte’s Web, yeah. You remember at the end, Charlotte just painted ‘HUMBLE’? First it’s ‘STUPENDOUS,’ ‘MAGNIFICENT,’ and at the end it’s like, ‘HUMBLE.’ I would just write ‘HUMBLE’ on my script, and remind myself that I got these kids to take care of, and my artistic arrogance has gotta get out of the way, and I’m gonna make a really bad movie, and I’ll pay my rent, and then I’ll move on.” Hear that, Maya Hawke? He made Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets for you.

Ethan Hawke Talks Charlotte’s Web With Desus & Mero