Denzel Washington Whispered to Ethan Hawke That It Was Better to Lose the Oscar for ‘Training Day’: ‘You Don’t Want an Award to Improve Your Status’

Ethan Hawke received a nomination for best supporting actor at the 2002 Oscars for his role in Antoine Fuqua’s crime thriller “Training Day.” Although he didn’t win the award, he found solace in the fact that his co-star Denzel Washington won the Oscar for best actor that same night.

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

During the Oscars night, Hawke shared Washington’s advice, highlighting his mindset. “You don’t strive for an award to enhance your own status, but rather to enhance the status of the award itself,” Hawke explained. He further emphasized the significance of this perspective by comparing it to playing with Babe Ruth. According to Hawke, Washington’s multiple Academy Awards didn’t elevate his personal status, but rather amplified the influence of the award itself.

During the interview, Hawke drew a comparison between Washington and the legendary baseball figure, Babe Ruth. He expressed his belief that Washington is truly the greatest actor of our generation.

Ethan Hawke shared his admiration for working with Denzel Washington, stating, “That experience and that voice I started having every day, acting with Denzel, you know, his imagination is so complete.” Hawke expressed his curiosity about how Babe Ruth tied his shoes and how he thought about various pitchers, emphasizing that such depth of understanding requires immense energy and thought. Witnessing Washington’s approach to his craft inspired Hawke, revealing to him the multitude of possibilities within their chosen profession.

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Hawke has received four Oscar nominations throughout his career. Two of these nominations were for his acting in the supporting category, specifically for his roles in “Training Day” and “Boyhood.” The other two nominations were for his work as a screenwriter, specifically for the adapted screenplays of “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight.” When asked if he would have liked to win the Oscar for “Training Day,” Hawke responded with a mixture of ambivalence and humility, saying, “No. I mean, yeah, I guess. I mean, I wouldn’t.”

“I found myself at the Oscars, seated next to the great Denzel Washington, while being nominated alongside Ian McKellen,” Hawke shared. “In my mind, I was already a winner. There was no way I could perceive it any differently.”

Ethan Hawke is currently embarking on a press tour to promote his latest directorial project titled “Wildcat.” The film features his talented daughter, Maya Hawke, who portrays the renowned novelist Flannery O’Connor. “Wildcat” will be hitting theaters across the United States on May 3rd. If you’re interested in hearing more from Hawke, you can catch his full episode of “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” on Max, where it’s currently available for streaming.

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