Feature

Ethan Hawke’s journey into adulthood

In the 1990s it seemed like Hawke had it all. Then in 2003, his life fell apart.

In the 1990s it seemed like Ethan Hawke had it all, said Tom Shone in the London Guardian. Critics praised his performances in movies like Reality Bites and Before Sunrise, and hailed his wife, Uma Thurman, as Hollywood’s greatest beauty. Then in 2003, his life fell apart. Hawke split from Thurman amid rumors that he’d had an affair with their two children’s nanny, Ryan Shawhughes. Labeled a love rat by the tabloids, he moved into New York’s notoriously grungy Chelsea Hotel. “I call it the black years,” says Hawke, 41. “Nothing teaches you like getting leveled. And I got leveled in my early 30s.” He beat himself up over his failed marriage, having seen his own parents divorce when he was 3 years old. “I put all this energy into not making the same mistakes my parents did, and I just re-enacted them all. I thought I was so much smarter than everybody. And I’m not.” Hawke slowly overcame his depression, and in 2008 married Shawhughes, with whom he now has two children. He’s found fatherhood easier the second time around. “I’m really the right age now. I like being home,” he says. When his first child was born, he was 27. “I look at pictures of myself and wonder: What was I thinking? I didn’t really understand what a meandering road adulthood is.”

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