Ethan Hawke Lost the Oscar for ‘Training Day’ and Denzel Washington Whispered in His Ear That Losing Was Better: ‘You Don’t Want an Award to Improve Your Status’

Ethan Hawke was nominated at the 2002 Oscars for best supporting actor for his performance in Antoine Fuqua’s crime thriller “Training Day.” He lost the prize to Jim Broadbent (“Iris”), but he immediately got some much-needed perspective from his “Training Day” co-star Denzel Washington, who happened to win the Oscar that same night for best actor.

During a recent interview on Max’s “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” series, the host asked Hawke about a story he heard in which Washington leaned over to Hawke after the latter’s Oscar loss and whispered in his ear: “It’s better that you didn’t win. Losing was better.”

“You don’t want an award to improve your status. You want to improve the award’s status. That’s the way he thinks,” Hawke said about Washington’s advice in the moment on Oscars night. “That’s what I’m talking about playing with Babe Ruth. The Academy Award has more power, because Denzel has a couple. It didn’t elevate who he was.”

Earlier in the interview, Hawke compared Washington to baseball icon Babe Ruth because, “When all is said and done he’s the greatest actor of our generation.”

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“That experience and that voice I started having every day, acting with Denzel, you know, his imagination is so complete,” Hawke said. “I imagine it would be interesting to see how Babe Ruth tied his shoes. You know how he thought about various pitchers. But what creates that is a tremendous amount of energy and thought, right, what creates those moments and once you see somebody working that way, it is like entrance there’s all these other rooms that you can go into in the profession. And that was really inspiring to me to see my chosen profession done at that level.”

Hawke has been nominated for four Oscars over his career: two for acting in the supporting category (“Training Day” and “Boyhood”) and two for adapted screenplay (“Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight”). Asked if he would have liked to win the Oscar for “Training Day,” the actor responded: “No. I mean, yeah, I guess. I mean, I wouldn’t.”

“I was at the Oscars sitting next to Denzel Washington and nominated against Ian McKellen,” Hawke added. “I had already won. It was impossible for me not to see it any other way.

Hawke is currently on a press tour for his latest directorial effort “Wildcat,” which stars his daughter Maya Hawke as novelist Flannery O’Connor. The movie opens in U.S. theaters on May 3. Hawke’s full episode of “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” is streaming on Max.

This post was originally published on Variety

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