Ethan Hawke on ‘Boyhood’ awards success: ‘I feel like we crashed the party’

“Boyhood” has been steamrolling in the critics phase of the awards season, something we all saw coming. But today the film received some real, tangible love from an actual industry organization: the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette were chalked up in the supporting races, while the film's cast was nominated in the ensemble category. For Hawke, it all makes for the biggest of cherries on top of a hugely fulfilling creative endeavor.

“I've done eight movies with Richard Linklater,” the actor says by telephone. “I met him when I was 24 years old at a time in my life when I felt as excited about acting as I imagine Peyton Manning feels about the Super Bowl. I was dedicating my life to it. I was so interested in it. And he was a peer that was as interested in the kind of naturalism that I was into, which is not really the kind of acting that draws attention to itself, but the ability to kind of blur the line between character and performer and to create something where it seems like you can smell that person. So all my work with Richard is important to me.”

He goes on to mention his performance in 2001's “Training Day,” which was the last brush with the awards season Hawke had as an actor (he's received two screenwriting Oscar nominations since, for Linklater movies no less). In his view, that particular result owed plenty to his collaboration with the “Boyhood” helmer.

“I knew that that performance was totally connected to this movie I had done with Rick called 'Tape,' where I really felt like I had learned to be an adult actor,” Hawke says. “I don't think I could have shared the screen with Denzel in that experience, with whatever confidence that I had, without the work with Rick. So in a way, 'Boyhood' is an accumulation of a lot of thought and a lot of work, so to get recognition for it, it couldn't be more meaningful to me, because this is where my heart is.”

He's also excited to be a bit of a steward for young co-stars Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater through the madness of the season. The film continues to be a circuit mainstay, but you embark upon a 12-year production expecting statues at the finish line.

“Are you kidding,” Hawke says when asked if this awards season experience feels different than the rest. “I feel like we crashed the party, you know? The movie is so daring and was made so fiercely and independently. As we were making it, people didn't understand what I was talking about. I'd tell them I was going down to Austin to make a movie that was going to come out in 11 years and they didn't know what I was talking about. And for me, the thing about the Screen Actors Guild is the idea that I can share this with Ellar and Lorelei. You know, Patricia and I, we've been at this a while and it has a special meaning because of that. But for Ellar and Lorelei, this is a wild, creative endeavor that they embarked upon as kids and took a real chance and really threw themselves at it. When 'Dead Poets Society' came out, I was around the same age as those two are now. And I had people like Robin Williams and Peter Weir looking after me and walking me through this. So the idea that I get to take Ellar and Lorelei with Patricia to the SAG Awards is really about the coolest thing, professionally, that's ever happened to me.”

The 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be held on Sunday, Jan. 25.