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Ethan Hawke is an actor, director, screenwriter and novelist first gained fame playing a prep school student in the 1989 film Dead Poet’s Society.
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In 1996, during a two-year hiatus from fillmaking, Hawke published his first novel, The Hottest State, which made him the object of some ridicule by the media despite garnering some positive reviews. Hawke withstood the criticism and would go on to publish a second novel, Ash Wednesday, in 2002.
A newly buff Hawke reappeared on the big screen in the 1997 sci-fi thriller Gattaca,
in which he infiltrates a society of genetically perfect humans by assuming another man's identity. His co-stars in the film—Hawke's biggest-budget, most mainstream effort to that date—included Jude Law and Uma Thurman, with whom Hawke began a romance that led to marriage in May 1998.
In 1998, Hawke co-starred with up-and-coming actress Gwyneth Paltrow in a modern-day remake of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, which received mixed reviews. The same year, he reunited with Linklater for the director's biopic about the famed Texas bank-robbing brothers The Newton Boys, costarring Matthew McConaughey. In 1999, he played the lead role—a journalist in love with the Japanese wife of a man accused of murder—in the film version of the prize-winning novel Snow Falling on Cedars; he also appeared in Joe the King, the directorial debut of his friend Frank Whaley.
Hawke next took on the classic troubled young man role in a contemporary version of Hamlet (2000), set in New York City, with a cast that included Sam Shepard, Kyle McLachlan, Julia Stiles and Steve Zahn. He appeared in two more Linklater films the following year: the innovative Waking Life, in which the actors, including Hawke and Julie Delpy, were filmed in live action and then digitally animated; and Tape, a film about a love triangle of Hawke, his Dead Poets co-star and friend Robert Sean Leonard, and wife Thurman.
Hawke's biggest film of 2001 was the fast-paced action-drama hit Training Day, in which he played a rookie cop who is paired with (and schooled by) a corrupt older partner, played with fierce intensity by Denzel Washington. Washington attracted most of the attention for the film, which was deemed mediocre by many critics, but Hawke earned his share of recognition as well, including his first Academy Award nomination, for Best Supporting Actor. Washington won as Oscar for the film in the Best Actor category.
After a long absence, Hawke was back onstage in New York City in 2001, starring in the Manhattan premiere of Sam Shepar's play The Late Henry Moss. In 2002, he appeared in Frank Whaley's The Jimmy Show, screened at Sundance, and makes his own feature directorial debut with Chelsea Walls, based on the Dylan Thomas poem "Under Milkwood" and starring Thurman as well as Leonard, Zahn and Whaley.
Hawke and Thurman divorced in 2005 following seven years of marriage. The couple have two children, daughter Maya and son Roan. The separation came after rumors that Hawke had an affair with their nanny. In 2008, he married the woman that he had the alleged affair with, Ryan Shawhughes. The couple also have two children, Clementine and Indiana.
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