Filed Under:

'I'd Rather Be A Mystery': John Hawkes On Keeping His Hat Pulled Down

Play associated audio

John Hawkes' conversation with Melissa Block on today's All Things Considered begins as many of his conversations might: with her noting that when she told people she was coming to talk to him and rattled off his credits, she got a response that he undoubtedly gets a lot: "Ohhh, he's that guy."

Hawkes has been in the HBO show Deadwood, last year's Oscar nominee Winter's Bone, and this year's Martha Marcy May Marlene, in which he played a cult leader. He's done regular television — Lost and Psych and Monk and The X-Files and CSI. But still, to many people, he's "ohhh, that guy." Melissa Block asks him whether he thinks it's a drawback to be a character actor rather than a huge star. "I think to kind of be thought of as 'that guy,' or 'I think I know you from somewhere' kind of guy, is an asset for me," Hawkes explains. "I have a difficult time sometimes believing movie stars playing characters." He says even if he had the face to be a household name, he wouldn't care to be one: "I'd rather be invisible. I'd rather be a mystery."

While he generally gravitates to smaller films, Hawkes does have a role in Steven Spielberg's upcoming Lincoln. Whatever he's doing, he explains that big movies don't always satisfy his desire for storytelling. "I feel like the art that changes the world, which is what I want to be part of," he says, "is never the storyteller guessing what the audience would like, but rather the storyteller telling the story they would want to tell it. Audience be damned, in a way."

Ultimately, Hawkes says, given the mix of projects in which he tends to become involved, encountering the public isn't always easy for a guy who's somewhere between recognizable and not. "If someone comes up and says, 'I saw you in Winter's Bone, I'm usually thrilled. If someone comes up and says, 'My friend said you were in a movie, what movies were you in?' and things like that? It becomes more difficult to begin listing things — 'Well, I haven't seen that' 'Well, I haven't seen that.' Sometimes, it's easier just to keep your hat pulled down and move about and live a normal life."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Jack Davis, Cartoonist Who Helped Found 'Mad' Magazine, Dies

Money from a job illustrating a Coca-Cola training manual became a springboard for Jack Davis to move from Georgia to New York.
NPR

Cookie Dough Blues: How E. Coli Is Sneaking Into Our Forbidden Snack

Most people know not to eat raw cookie dough. But now it's serious: 46 people have now been sickened with E. coli-tainted flour. Here's how contamination might be occurring.
WAMU 88.5

The Politics Hour – LIVE from Slim's Diner!

This special edition of the Politics Hour is coming to you live from Slim's Diner from Petworth in Northwest D.C.

NPR

Writing Data Onto Single Atoms, Scientists Store The Longest Text Yet

With atomic memory technology, little patterns of atoms can be arranged to represent English characters, fitting the content of more than a billion books onto the surface of a stamp.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.