'I'd Rather Be A Mystery': John Hawkes On Keeping His Hat Pulled Down | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
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/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Sept. 16

A local theater company takes on a classic story about identity and alienation, and a sculptor looks beneath the surface in her latest body of work.

NPR

'Language Of Food' Reveals Mysteries Of Menu Words And Ketchup

Linguist Dan Jurafsky uncovers the fishy origins of ketchup and how it forces us to rethink global history. He also teaches us how to read a menu to figure out how much a restaurant may charge.
NPR

How To Measure Success Against The New Monster In The Middle East?

But most Americans are far from clear as to what this "ISIL" monster is, other than a few shadowy, portentous figures on disturbing videotapes.
NPR

Minecraft's Business Model: A Video Game That Leaves You Alone

Microsoft is buying the company that created the video game Minecraft, which has a loyal following in part because of the freedom it allows players — including freedom from pressure to buy add-ons.

Leave a Comment

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