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banner Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 09:06 GMT
Ethan Hawke's Oscar surprise
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By entertainment correspondent Tom Brook
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Ethan Hawke was as surprised as everyone else when he won a supporting actor Oscar nomination for his role as the young idealistic cop Jake Hoyt in Training Day.

Critics had praised his performance opposite Denzel Washington in this intense police corruption drama.

But his name hadn't really surfaced in lists of possible nominees.

Training Day starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke
Hawke plays a rookie cop put to the test by his corrupt new boss

Hawke says: "I feel really lucky because I was so completely not expecting it.

"If you are expecting it then you might be disappointed if you don't get it."

The 31-year-old American, who is married to the actress Uma Thurman, has an impressive list of screen credits.

In the last 15 years he has appeared in some 30 features. He appeared in the futuristic Gattaca in 1977.

In Snow Falling on Cedars in 1999, he played a pensive journalist and then took the title role in Hamlet in 2000.

Esteem

Hawke maintains he's trying to keep his Oscar nomination in perspective.

"It is not to be taken too seriously. It doesn't make your performance any better or any worse if you didn't get nominated, so you try to keep an even keel."


I admire him a lot, I like his work and, you know, you can't try to match somebody like that

Ethan Hawke on Denzel Washington

Despite being recognised in the supporting actor category, Hawke's time on screen matches that of his co-star Denzel Washington, nominated for best actor.

Hawke plays an honest rookie cop who is put through hell in one 24-hour cycle working alongside a corrupt undercover officer trying to see if he has the mettle to join his ranks.

Washington plays a larger than life figure. He is an out-of-control officer called Alonzo Harris, who is corrupt but also very charismatic.

Hawke says he didn't try to match Washington's onscreen magnetism.

"His presence is so powerful that to compete with him would be foolish" he says.

"I admire him a lot, I like his work and, you know, you can't try to match somebody like that. You just try to do your best and hope the movie works."

Rogues

Training Day is high-octane action-packed entertainment.

But Hawke believes it also shines the spotlight on the police corruption plaguing many American cities.

Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman
Hawke is married to the actress Uma Thurman

"It's certainly a window into it, it certainly opens up a discussion," he says.

"It shows people a little bit of how it does happen, how it could happen."

He adds: "A lot of the stuff some of the police officers in the last couple of years have been accused of is a lot worse than anything that happens in this movie."

In the wake of 11 September police, and firefighters, have become national heroes in America.

Training Day shows rogue out-of-control cops at work in the streets of Los Angeles.

But Hawke points out "the bulk of all police officers are very serious men dedicated to serving us".

Most Oscar odds-makers say Hawke is a long shot to win an award but the nomination alone has raised his profile.

He doesn't appear to have a shortage of work but he admits he wouldn┐t object if the nomination brought some interesting scripts his way.

"I hope so. I want some good jobs. What else can I say?"

The Oscars ceremony will be broadcast live on BBC Two on Monday 25 March from 0045-0600 GMT and reported live on BBC News Online.

Links to more Oscars 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.


Links to more Oscars 2002 stories