This week, he reunites with Julie Delpy for a continuation of their 1995 movie romance, "Before Sunrise." The sequel, appropriately, is titled "Before Sunset."
"Before Sunrise" left the two characters at a train station with a promise to meet six months later. "Before Sunset" picks up a little more than nine years later, at a bookstore in Paris.
"This isn't like your ordinary sequel," Hawke tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler. "Whenever you say 'sequel,' it implies 'Return of the Jedi' and commercial pressures. But 'Before Sunrise' was a simple little story. And this is a continuation of these people's lives."
After all those years, Hawke explains his character, Jesse, has written a book about that one night he spent with Celine (Delpy). And she shows up at his book reading.
At one point, Jesse begins to talk about the difficulties he has in his marriage, speaking about issues that, Syler notes, sometimes people who have been married for years don't even broach.
"That's part of the problem," Hawke says. "Sometimes, it's easier to talk about those things with somebody besides your spouse."
Because Hawke has been so open and honest about his split with Uma Thurman, Syler asked if the film is autobiographical.
Hawke points out that, along with director Richard Linklater and Delpy, he wrote the movie from what he knows.
He says, "Certainly, the three of us wrote this movie and we're trying to take the experiences of our generation and people that we know and ourselves and turn it into a work of art. I mean, that's the goal is to take some things that you might be thinking about, or feeling about, or friends might be thinking about, and feeling, and turn it into something valuable. That's the intent."
And with a smile, Hawke points out that Delpy had said that because the script called for his character to have a failed marriage, Hawke deliberately destroyed his, to make the movie more believable.
He says, "Girls always think boys are immature; it doesn't matter whether we're 5 or 55."
Personally, he says, he is content.
"I'm proud of this movie," he says. "This movie is very dear to me. The two people that I really collaborated with on it are two of my closest friends in the world, and it took us nine years to get the movie made. So at this hour, I'm kind of continually hit with the blessing of this being a reality. We set out to do this for nine years. Now here I am talking to you about it."
Fast Facts About Ethan Hawke:
- Ethan Green Hawke was born in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 6, 1970.
- His parents divorced when Hawke was 3 years old. He moved with his mother, making stops in Vermont, Georgia and New York before eventually settling in West Windsor, N.J., where she remarried when he was 10.
- Hawke made his feature acting debut in Joe Dante's "Explorers" in 1985.
- Hawke published his first novel, "The Hottest State" in 1996.
- In 1997, he starred in the sci-fi thriller "Gattaca" with Uma Thurman, whom he later married on May 1, 1998. The couple had separated as of fall 2003. They have two children: Maya Ray Thurman-Hawke - born on July 8, 1998, and Roan Thurman-Hawke, born in January 2002.
- In 2001, Hawke earned an Oscar nomination for his role in "Training Day."
- The writer/actor made his feature-film directorial debut in 2002 with "Chelsea Walls", based on Dylan Thomas' "Under Milkwood;" it starred Uma Thurman.
- In 2004, he performed opposite Angelina Jolie in the erotic thriller "Taking Lives."