Hawke tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler in "Taking Lives," his character, local art dealer James Costa "witnesses this brutal crime and because of that, he gets stuck in this investigation and starts falling in love with his leading investigative officer."
The officer is FBI profiler, Special Agent Illeana Scott (Angelina Jolie), who has been tracking the killer. She uses Costa as bait because he may be the killer's next victim.
It was easy to imagine his character falling in love with Jolie's Scott. "Doesn't take a lot of method work to imagine that," he says. He actually compares his co-star with Marilyn Monroe.
"I hope she wouldn't mind me saying," he says, "I have a theory she's kind of in the 2000s what Marilyn Monroe was in the '50s because women love her and men love her. She has this overt sensuality, sexuality. But in her case, Marilyn was a victim, as a '50s kind of women, and there is something deeply empowering about Angelina. I really like her. I never worked with somebody that commanded so much attention."
Another star he enjoyed working with in the film is Kiefer Sutherland, who like Hawke started acting at a young age.
Hawke notes, "A little affinity with him. He's still here; we're still getting to do this. But then, also, he's very good. When I was 14 and saw him in 'Stand By Me," he was like the best actor I have ever seen."
To continue to enjoy the craft, Hawke says, he likes to take a break between projects to recharge his batteries.
He explains, "Because I started acting so young, I felt a real need to kind of constantly reassess what it means to me. You know, the child actors who then grow up, it's a long casualty list. There are very few people like Kiefer, myself, who get to keep doing it and keep enjoying it. The key to be able to keep doing it is to keep enjoying it.
"I also like to write," he says. "I have written a couple of books. I take off time and I do that. And I've got a couple of kids. The problem with making movies is you always have to travel, which is really hard on the whole parenting thing, to uproot yourself to Montreal, L.A., wherever it is."
About his family life, he has managed to handle his separation from wife Uma Thurman with candor while something so private has been played out in the media.
Hawke notes, "The truth of the matter is that 'Dead Poets Society' came out when I was 18. I've had to do all my learning in front of people. So I feel like I don't really know it any other way. I know it's an added element. I wish it weren't that way.
"I sometimes make a joke that I call it, like, a luxury tax, like I have so many great things in my life that it's the little tax on having so much good fortune, that you got to have people think they know something about you, you have to experience other people's judgments or opinion or whatever. Nobody likes that."
And yet he says, he has learned not to let that bother him.
He says, "Life is painful. Ultimately, the only thing that's really painful is the reality of life. What other people say about you is irritating, but it's not legitimate suffering. I mean, people talk. It doesn't matter if you're stacking groceries at the Piggly-Wiggly in Kansas City, people are just going to talk smack about you. It's still going to hurt your feelings. So you just got to try to believe in yourself and know if you make mistakes that it's really how you respond to them that matters. And what people say about you doesn't really matter. It doesn't amount to that much."
Some Facts About Ethan Hawke