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Why Ethan Hawke Compares Filming The Northman To Apocalypse Now

The making of Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 masterwork "Apocalypse Now" was a notoriously difficult production. Productions like that, on which a major studio pours tens of millions of dollars into achieving the unique vision of one individual, were a rarity then and have become increasingly rare since. However, Ethan Hawke sees some similarities between it and "The Northman," the upcoming Viking epic from Robert Eggers, director of "The Witch" and "The Lighthouse."

Hawke stars in "The Northman" as the murdered King Aurvandill, father to protagonist Prince Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård), and in a recent interview the actor spoke about the project, drawing a comparison between it and the fabled production of "Apocalypse Now."

While "Apocalypse Now" is almost certainly more fun to watch than it was to make, Hawke didn't seem to mean the comparison in a bad way. Instead, he seemed enthusiastic about having the opportunity to work on a set that reminds him of the stories behind the earlier film.

Hawke says The Northman is "like a jump off a high dive"

The discussion went down in The New Yorker, in a profile about Robert Eggers and his unlikely success in filmmaking. According to Hawke, "The Northman" is a production that hearkens back to not just a historical period of the past, but to a previous era in filmmaking as well.

"So much of moviemaking is people trying to sell you something," said Hawke. He went on to opine that "The Northman" bucks the current fashion of ultra-commercial Hollywood franchises. He said Eggers has "the balls and the hubris" to "make a masterpiece." He explained that "The Northman" was shot in a way dissimilar from many other mainstream movies. "So, for me, just seeing somebody take a swing like that, you know, it's like a jump off a high dive," said Hawke.

The New Yorker piece said that "The Northman" took 87 days to shoot – not quite as long as "Apocalypse Now," which took more than a year. But those 87 days were reportedly full of painstaking work to capture the Viking era as accurately as possible, a process that Hawke said reminds him of "Apocalypse Now." If Hawke's comparison is even close to the mark (and if some fans' worries about the film turn out to be unwarranted), we should have quite a movie to look forward to.