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Monday, November 28, 2022

Ethan Hawke connects with his sinister side in the supernatural horror ‘The Black Phone’

Fans of eerie offerings will enjoy “The Black Phone”, which sees Ethan Hawke cast as a terrifying villain.

And, I do mean terrifying.

As the seasoned actor draws close to his almost four-decade career in Hollywood, Hawke can be proud of the work he has done. He has taken on complex and enigmatic characters and played them with commendable finesse.

In this coming-of-age supernatural horror, he is cast as The Grabber, who is a psychotic child abductor and serial killer.

The premise centres on Finney Blake (Mason Thames), a teenager who is often bullied at school. Thankfully, his friend Robin Arellano (Miguel Cazarez Mora) often helps fend them off.

Finney lives with his sister Gwen, who has psychic abilities, and his aloof alcoholic father Terrence (Jeremy Davies).

Although Gwen has a dream of Finney getting kidnapped by a masked man in a black van, she is beside herself when it happens and the police don’t believe her.

Meanwhile, Finney is taken with Robin, who becomes a victim of The Grabber. But he is helped by his ghost along with that of the other victims.

On agreeing to this sinister role, Hawke said: “About 10 years ago, I worked with Scott Derrickson on ‘Sinister’, and I was so glad that I got to work on that film because I learned a lot from him about genre movies and how they can intersect with the performance.

“I’ve followed his career over the years and have a lot of respect for him. So, when someone like that offers you a movie, you take it seriously.

Ethan Hawke as The Grabber in ‘The Black Phone’. Picture: Supplied

“Also, I felt that unlike 95% of scary movies, ‘The Black Phone’ had a really beautiful beating heart in the middle of it.”

Expanding on it further, he said: “Well, the film is scary and terrifying, but it has a heart of gold in the sense that it’s really about a pair of siblings helping each other, learning how to take care of themselves. I just found it oddly moving, and I couldn’t put the script down when I read it.”

Of course, everyone who has seen the movie has raved about how terrifyingly impressive he is as The Grabber.

He said: “He is obviously an extremely damaged person. I found that it was easier to portray him as a wounded animal that could do whatever he wanted because the world, in his eyes, was so unkind to him. In that sense, I think he feels a sense of justice when inflicting pain on others because of what was done to him.

“Generally, people who lie a lot are people who were lied to a lot. So, they don’t feel guilty about it because they believe it’s fair.”

In a way, this character carries with him a generational hurt of being unloved.

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The Grabber always wears a mask and it constantly changes.

Hawke said: “That’s where Scott’s brain is so special as it was his idea to have the mask constantly change. They put a lot of artistry into the mask: sometimes it covered the top half of my face, while other times it covered the bottom; sometimes it was on one side, while other times it was on the other side; sometimes it was a smile, while other times it was a frown or had no expression at all.

“Scott and I would talk about this line in Scorsese’s Bob Dylan documentary ‘Rolling Thunder Revue’ that says, “you know somebody is telling you the truth when they are wearing a mask, and that they’re lying when they are not.”

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“There was just something so powerful about how they designed these masks, and it was fun to have them all out and decide which one was right for each scene. Masks are important archetypes of the horror genre.”

Hawke sang the praises of his younger co-star Thames.

Ethan Hawke as The Grabber with Mason Thames as Finney Blake in ‘The Black Phone’. Picture: Supplied

He said: “It’s so much fun when you meet these young people that are so in love with movies. I went through it with Joshua Caleb Johnson on ‘The Good Lord Bird’ and with Ellar Coltrane on ‘Boyhood’, where you watch these young artists at work who have such a great sense of playfulness and joy.

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“Mason was very excited to be in this movie, and he got so into the film that he made it so much fun to be on set.

“So, the environment was playful and rich. He is a savvy young performer that did such a good job, and the same thing can be said about Madeleine McGraw, who plays his sister, Gwen.”

On why you should watch this movie, Hawke said: “Fear is a big part of our daily lives, and many times we just don’t know what to do with it. So, putting it on film or on stage has value, because ultimately it teaches us how to handle it.”

“The Black Phone” is showing at cinemas, nationwide.

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