Although Ethan Hawke has spent nearly 40 years in Hollywood, the Oscar contender has yet to land his ideal role—in an animated movie.
The Strange Way of Life actor admitted that he envies celebrities who provide their voices for animated films during a conversation with his old Good Lord Bird co-star Daveed Diggs for an Interview magazine article. The live-action Little Mermaid movie, currently in theatres, features Diggs as Sebastian the crab.
"My whole life as an actor I’ve dreamed of getting some email saying, ‘You can audition for the voice in one of these,'" Hawke told Diggs. "I’ve never done [an animated movie]. Nobody’s ever come."
Hawke added, "I watch all these movies and I’m like, ‘Oh, I could do that guy’s voice.'"
A character was voiced by the First Reformed actor in a Robot Chicken episode that aired in 2007. Hawke has narrated books and appeared in the Fishpriest episode of the Audible audio series as an undercover drug officer turned bounty hunter in the 1990s Bronx.
"As a performer, the power of the voice is an art form unto itself. And I love sound design," Hawke told Audible in May 2022.
"When you first go to acting school, one of the first classes they take you to is voice and speech, and about what can be accomplished. The really great theater directors I’ve worked with cast people based on their voices. It’s a strange thing when you don’t like the way something sounds, and that’s not on purpose."
Hawke continued, "The idea of trying to re-explore what an audio play could be was dynamic and interesting to me. I think it’s a great way for us to use our imaginations. One of the problems with movies sometimes is they do so much of the work for you, and they rob you of the experience of really engaging your own imagination. [Radio plays] ask more of you than a movie. But because of that, it has a possibility of giving you more too, because you are asked to engage, you have to participate. You have to hear that joint inhale, and then your brain has to go, ‘Oh yeah, I can picture that,’ and your brain pictures it, and you might make it better than some top-notch cinematographer would have. You’ll bring your own memories, your own feelings."
The Training Day actor added, "Some of the worst temper tantrums I’ve ever had in my life are when they screw up the sound on films that I’ve done, when they change your voice or they cut two takes together, or they think that this rasp in your voice is a mistake and they cut it out, or they do bad sound design so that the performance can’t be heard or felt. I don’t understand it exactly, but I know when they screw it up and it makes me so upset. People love to talk about how great Meryl Streep’s accent work is, but the reason why it’s so great is she manages to have an accent and use her own voice. Some people do accents and they just do imitations. And it might be a good imitation, but I can’t feel them anymore. So to that point, I’m a student of what the voice does."