Denzel Washington Gave Ethan Hawke The Best Advice Possible After Oscar Loss

By Jacob VanGundy | Updated

During a recent interview on Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace, Ethan Hawke discussed his experience on the first night he was nominated for an Oscar and the advice Denzel Washington gave him after he lost. The interview also revealed how he feels about the award in general and how Washington influenced that perspective. He demonstrates a deep respect for his co-star and appreciation for the advice he was given. 

Washington’s Life Changing Advice

While Denzel Washington was nominated for Best Actor, Ethan Hawke was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 74th Academy Awards. When Hawke lost his award, Washington leaned over and whispered in his ear, “It’s better 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.” Advice that Hawke took forward as an actor. 

Both Nominated For Training Day

Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington were each nominated for their roles in the 2001 Crime Thriller Training Day. The film, directed by Antonie Fuqua and written by David Ayer, follows a rookie police officer tasked with observing a decorated LAPD officer for a day, but events quickly spiral out of control as the veteran officer turns out to be unhinged and deeply corrupt. It brought in $104.9 million at the box office and was praised by critics, largely because of the performances delivered by Washington and Hawke. 

Ethan Hawke Was Happy To Be There

Denzel Washington would win for Best Actor that night, his second Oscar win. For Ethan Hawke, taking the advice Washington gave him to heart doesn’t make Washington a better actor; it makes the Ocar a more important award. It’s clear Hawke’s admiration for his co-star was just as important to shaping his perspective on the awards as the actual advice he received. 

When asked if he wished that he’d won the award that night rather than losing, Ethan Hawke stated that just being there as a nominee was a win for him. He pointed out that being at the Oscars with Denzel Washington and being nominated in the same category as Ian McKellen meant more to him than actually winning the award. 

One Of The Greatest Of All Time

Ethan Hawke also used his interview to praise Denzel Washington, comparing him to Babe Ruth. He claimed that watching Washington work as an actor felt like seeing how Babe Ruth prepared for a baseball game and what he thought about pitchers. He credits working with the veteran actor with helping him find his own voice as an actor and improve his craft. 

Hawke Has Multiple Nominations

Ethan Hawke would go on to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor again, plus a pair of nominations as a writer. His second Supporting Actor nomination came in 2012 for Boyhood, and he was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for Before Sunset in 2005 and Before Midnight in 2014. Denzel Washington, meanwhile, has racked up a total of seven acting nominees, including one for directing, in addition to his two wins

Incredible Careers For Both Men

Both Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington have had great careers after Training Day. The two seem to have nothing but respect for each other as actors, and it’s heartwarming to see them both take such even-tempered approaches to the Oscars. Both men have elevated their profession and deserve all the accolades they’ve earned.

You can catch Ethan HAwke’s episode of Who’s Talking To Chris Wallace? streaming now on Max.