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Why The Grabber From The Black Phone Looks So Familiar

Not only did 2022 provide some of the most acclaimed horror films in recent years, but these frightening flicks also contained some top notch contemporary performances within the genre. Whether you prefer Mia Goth”s twisted turn as Maxine in "X" and "Pearl," Daniel Kaluuya's subdued performance in "Nope" or Timothée Chalamet's oddly wholesome take in "Bones and All," the year gave horror fans a delectable grab bag of characters to remember. Amongst these characters who deserves a place on the list is The Grabber from "The Black Phone." 

The Scott Derrickson-directed feature, itself an adaptation of the 2004 Joe Hill short story, sees none other than Ethan Hawke embody pure evil as The Grabber, a deranged child murderer who's latest victim, Finney (Mason Thames), has some unexpected tricks up his sleeves that might help him escape. "The Black Phone" was a financial and critical success for Blumhouse, in no small part due to the electrifying performance by the four time Oscar nominee. Hawke's ability to seamlessly switch between scene chewing dynamism and genuine creepiness ultimately aids in giving the film an entertaining and unpredictable nature. 

It may be hard to imagine a performance where Hawke went quite as extreme as he does here, but that doesn't mean the actor hasn't delivered some brilliant work over the years. And we can bet you've seen a project or two he's been in. 

We got to see Hawke grow in the Before trilogy

Ethan Hawke would begin a fruitful relationship with director Richard Linklater with the "Before" trilogy. Consisting of 1995's "Before Sunrise," 2004's "Before Sunset" and 2013's "Before Midnight," the set of films chronicles the nearly 20 year romance between Jesse (Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy), set in nine year gaps between each film. The films are distinct for their minimalistic plots and heavy dialogue scenes, allowing room for explorations of various topics including parenthood, aging and differing ways to approach love.  Hawke not only stars as the down-to-earth and relatable Jesse, but also went on to contribute to the screenplays of both "Sunset" and "Midnight," both of which were nominated for Academy Awards for best adapted screenplay. 

While many were satisfied with the ending of the acclaimed trilogy, Hawke has shown interest in making a fourth installment to the "Before" series. Speaking with GQ in 2022, the actor expresses that, while he wouldn't want to mess with their track record, he does feel that there's possibility in what a fourth film could center on. "There might be a moment to hit, you know, the last stage of life," he tells GQ. "That would be the time to find."

Training Day almost didn't have Ethan Hawke

Another one of the actor's defining performances came in 2001's "Training Day." In the film, Hawke stars as rookie narcotics officer Jake Hoyt. Hoyt spends a day with the unpredictable Detective Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) as they take on the crime-riddled streets of Los Angeles. 

It may be hard to think of now, but Hawke almost didn't get the role. Director Antoine Fuqua and Warner Brothers tested several actors for the role such as Paul Walker, Ryan Phillippe, Scott Speedman and Tobey Maguire before eventually going with Hawke. Suffice to say, they made the right choice. Not only was the film itself a massive success, earning over $100 million and garnering positive reviews, but its two lead performances received numerous accolades. While much of the gold went to Washington during award season, Hawke had his fair share of recognition, most notably being nominated for his first ever Academy Award for best supporting actor.

Hawke was part of the highly ambitious Boyhood

Since starring in "Before Sunrise," Ethan Hawke would find himself in several other Richard Linklater films from "The Newton Boys" to "Tape" to "Walking Life." But perhaps their most intriguing collaboration came in the 2014 film "Boyhood." Filmed over the course of 12 years, "Boyhood" chronicles the life of Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) from his youth up until young adulthood. Evans' life is full of challenges, but on his side is his father, Mason Evans Sr. (Hawke) who, despite being divorced from his mom (Patricia Arquette), always showcases love and support for his children throughout their lives.

Much like the "Before" trilogy, Hawke contributed both his acting and creative abilities to "Boyhood," helping the director further craft the idea and define characters. The film went on to top several year-end lists for the best movies of 2014, including from Sight & Sound, Indiewire, USA Today, and Rolling Stone amongst many others. Additionally, amongst its many accolades and nominations, Hawke would receive a Golden Globe and Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor, the latter being his fourth Oscar nomination overall.

Hawke went into Moon Knight without reading the script

Ethan Hawke may be primarily recognized as an indie darling, but that doesn't mean the actor isn't capable of taking part in major franchises. And in 2022, Hawke joined just about the most major franchise out there as antagonist Arthur Harrow in the Disney+ series "Moon Knight." The show follows Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac) as he his alternate personality is the vigilante Moon Knight, in service to the Egyptian Moon god Khonshu. Along the way, he encounters Arthur Harrow, the previous avatar of Khonshu who now has become a dangerous cult leader. The character, based on a minor antagonist from the "Moon Knight' comics, was largely made for the show. 

Hawke took on the role, but with one request from director Mohamed Diab. "Ethan is someone that is — everyone sees him as this great, legendary, independent film actor, and joining the superhero world is something big," Diab tells Comic Book Resources. "So when Oscar [Isaac] first approached him and then I talked to him about it, we pitched him the idea, but I told him please don't read the script. Not that the script is bad, but when you work with him, you have to get from him." Hawke agreed to the unique ask, with Diab noting that it was the first time in 35 years that Hawke had signed on a project without reading the script.