Ethan Hawke: It's Hard to 'Sell a Movie without a Gun'

Actor Ethan Hawke works constantly in Hollywood, although you may not even realize it.

The “Boyhood” star often toils in lower-profile films along with mainstream fare like “The Purge” and “The Magnificent Seven” (2016).


As a result, he’s been a part of the Hollywood eco-system for more than two decades. It’s why what the 47-year-old actor told the host of “Late Night with Seth Meyers” about a consistent theme to his career is fascinating.

It involves guns.

It seems that when Hawke holds a gun on screen, those Hollywood suits open their wallets and purses wider for him.

You know, people have been talking so much about gun control in this country, and I noticed recently like, if you put in a column every movie I ever did where I carry a gun, and every move where I don’t, and my salary, like if I ask my father to do the math on that… I really think it would be about 92% to 8%… And when I realized that, you realize how much our identity is wrapped about what we want, and how we see people, and how hard it is to sell a movie without a gun. I mean, no wonder we’re in turmoil over this subject.

It’s a fascinating comment on a number of levels.

One, it acknowledges that audiences line up to see films where, as is most often the case, the good guys take down the bad guys with guns. Secondly, Hollywood may recoil over elements of the Second Amendment, but when it comes to selling soap they’re all in on fictional gun violence.

Hawke’s comments also bring to mind other inconvenient truths for the industry. Two actors recently made direct connections between gun violence on screen and in the real world. Stars like “The Blacklist’s” Megan Boone and Amy Schumer used their creative clout to excise guns from their content.


They clearly think showing guns in action could have real-world consequences. Yet most actors, when asked about a possible connection between violent movies and actual violence, say you can’t blame Hollywood.

Meanwhile, other actors use their films and TV shows to lecture the country on a variety of issues. Think gun control (“Miss Sloane”) as a prime example.


They think they can change voting behavior with their storytelling. Yet storytelling that glorifies guns won’t make a single person commit a gun-related crime. Following their collective logic might make your brain hurt.

Actors might be taken more seriously on the subject of gun control if they reduced the amount of gun violence in the stories they tell. Otherwise, their anti-NRA lectures resemble just one more round of celebrity virtue signaling.


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