- Hawke said he thought Robin Williams hated him.
- “I wouldn’t laugh at anything he did,” Hawke said while attending the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.
- But it turned out it was Williams who helped get Hawke his first agent.
A teenaged Ethan Hawke was not into Robin Williams’ antics when they worked together on 1989’s “Dead Poets Society.”
“He had a habit of making a ton of jokes on set,” Hawke said, according to Variety, during a round table chat at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival over the weekend, when he was honored with the festival’s President’s Award.
“At 18, I found that incredibly irritating,” Hawke continued. “He wouldn’t stop and I wouldn’t laugh at anything he did.”
Hawke was convinced that Williams hated him. But then after filming, the actor came to learn that it was Williams who got the raising star his first agent.
“[The agent] called saying, ‘Robin Williams says you are going to do really well,'” Hawke recalled.
Hawke also recalled a profound industry lesson he learned thanks to Williams — that young actors can bring an energy that can lead to them being intimidating on set.
“There was this scene in the film when he makes me spontaneously make up a poem in front of the class,” Hawke said while reflecting on filming “Dead Poets Society” with Williams.
“He made this joke at the end of it, saying that he found me intimidating. I thought it was a joke. As I get older, I realize there is something intimidating about young people’s earnestness, their intensity,” he continued. “It is intimidating – to be the person they think you are. Robin was that for me.”
Williams, who died by suicide in 2014 after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (although an autopsy later revealed he had Lewy body disease, according to CBS), was Oscar nominated for his performance in “Dead Poets Society,” playing a teacher with unconventional methods of getting his students to learn poetry. He would win his only Oscar for 1997’s “Good Will Hunting.”
Hawke’s upcoming projects include the Disney+ series “Moon Knight,” where his role hasn’t been released just yet; “The Northman” in which he plays a Viking king; and “The Black Phone” where he’ll portray a child kidnapper. All are coming out in 2022.