Ethan Hawke told us why he decided to break his rule of not playing villains to become the terrifying The Grabber for The Black Telephone
The Black Phone It is a terrifying film that talks about the neglect, violence and abuse that the child population must suffer every day. Director Scott Derrickson mentioned him in an interview for out of focus that his intention was precisely to show “the resilience of youth” and drew on her own experiences to talk about how traumas are overcome. And along the way, she managed to find a good balance between a serial killer movie, a ghost story, and a coming-of-age movie.
And this, in short, would not have been achieved if it had not been for the incredible presence of Ethan Hawke What The Grabber, the serial killer who is dedicated to attacking young children. His character is very surprising, not only because of the awesomeness and terror that inspires his figure and his mask, but also because he doesn’t play villains.
Hawke, who has stood out for films like the trilogy of Before, Boyhood or First Reformed, is known for presenting us with intense performances and endearing characters. However, he had a very specific idea about what he doesn’t like to do with his job: play villains or monsters.
What convinced you to become The Grabber? Principal Derrickson and the star told us everything!
Why not play villains?
For Ethan Hawke, the idea of playing villains caused him conflict because they can become very iconic, and if they do then the actor behind the character is marked forever thanks to him and the audience will forever associate him with that character. And in fact, in an interview with /Film, he explained his point best by giving the example of Jack Nicsholson:
“I’ve always had a theory that when you teach the audience how to see the devil inside you, they can’t unsee it for the rest of your career. Jack Nicholson could play an accountant and you’d still be expecting him to blow up like he did in The Shining.”
Ethan Hawke- /Film
Therefore, it was really a surprise that he agreed to play a character that surely will become extremely iconic and we will see it around all halloween parties of this year. But according to what he told us Scott Derickson, It was enough for Ethan Hawke to read the script to be convinced that he wanted to be in the film:
“I gave him the script! I told him what the role was like, he told me he probably wouldn’t do it. He said “I don’t really play villains, but I’ll read it.” And the next day, I wake up and I have a voicemail on my phone of him reading a part of the script in The Grabber’s voice.
Scott Derrickson- Out of Focus
What’s so special about The Black Phone?
Ethan Hawke confirmed to us that indeed I had no intention of playing the part and that he simply read the script because he promised Derrickson. But when he finished it, he realized that I really hadn’t done anything like it and discovered that the film had more nuances than he imagined:
“[…] So I read it, realized that I had never done anything like it, and felt that the film was strangely moving. I’ve never seen a horror movie that combines a serial killer with a ghost story and a beautiful, traditional story about growing up, because it’s really about the kids.”
Ethan Hawke – Out of Focus
It was also difficult for Hawke to play a villain who never takes off the mask, so he relied heavily on the physical appearance of the character to convey an extremely menacing vibe. But what really convinced him to play The Grabber was that they never really ask you to understand or empathize with him.
“I think that’s part of the reason why I liked the first script. Most villains, in particular, tend to over explain. They tell you everything, blah blah blah, who cares? He’s a demon maniac, I don’t need to know what his mom told him. I get it, someone hurt him.
I liked that you only see the Raptor from the children’s point of view. No one asks you to understand or empathize with him, it’s just how the child experiences it and they don’t know who this lunatic is and that gave me a lot of freedom.”
Ethan Hawke- Out of Focus