The audience erupted with laughter when, after taking their seats on stage, Patricia Arquette said: “[Ethan and I] were just saying we must be the two actors with the most fucked up teeth.” It was in reference to seeing the montage of clips from her and Hawke’s careers that prompted the comment. Tangled teeth aside, it’s impossible to deny the impressive breadth and depth of both actors’ careers, which includes this year’s Academy Award nominated Boyhood.
When asked by moderator Roger Durling if they were worried about the risk of saying yes to director Richard Linklater’s request to do a 12-year in the making film Hawke replied: “People use the expression labor of love. Never was this more true than with this experience. I remember when Rick asked me to be involved with this…and it seemed like an adventure. It wasn’t a job, it was truly somebody saying, ‘I want to make piece of art, do you want to make a piece of art with me?”…It didn’t feel like a risk…I thought it sounded like a blast.”
“One of the things that I first thought was, how in hell do you get the money [to make this film] when [backers] know they’re not gonna see it back for 13 years?” added Arquette. “And Rick’s clear that he’s telling a story not in the most obvious way, but he’s gonna tell a story about human beings….and none of us had contracts…. So that’s a risk.”
Talk then moved away from Boyhood and to a retrospective of the actors’ work, that included Hawke’s Dead Poet’s Society, Reality Bites, Gattaca, Training Day, and the Before trilogy and Arquette’s work in The Indian Runner, Ed Wood, Flirting with Disaster, and Bringing Out the Dead.
The moment was somber when a seminal scene in Dead Poet’s with Robin Williams and Hawke flickered on the screen. Of working with Williams Hawke said, “Robin, he was really, he was not ordinary. He was a comic genius, and in a world where that word gets overused, he was a genius. You don’t need two of them. It was unbelievable to be in a room with him…I was a young actor, this guy was improving wildly, making people laugh. And my concentration was fragile. I was eighteen years old…It was a thrill to be in front of the camera with him because you honestly didn’t know what was going to happen….My point is that Robin was special, that film was special.”
Both Hawke and Arquette were open, honest, and funny throughout the night, revealing thoughtful insights into their acting experiences and those who they have worked with. The evening ended with their Boyhood costar Ellar Coltrane presenting them with their Riviera awards.