Hawke shoots his way to the top

Hawke shoots his way to the top
Cast member Ethan Hawke poses at the premiere of "Getaway" in Los Angeles, California

If you are an actor and want to earn a decent living in Hollywood, you are going to have to kill someone.

On screen, at least. This is the pet theory of actor Ethan Hawke, who made his name with touchy-feely dramas such as Dead Poets Society (1989) and Reality Bites (1994), before graduating to the science-fiction film Gattaca (1997) and corrupt- cop movie Training Day (2001).

His latest effort, The Purge, written and directed by James DeMonaco, may be the most violent thing he has done yet - and one in many projects that seem to herald a comeback for the 42-year-old, one of Hollywood's hottest young actors in the 1990s.

Opening in Singapore this week, it is a dystopian thriller that imagines a not-too-distant future in which the United States government sets aside a 12-hour period every year and allows citizens to murder, rape or commit any crime they want, the idea being to purge society of its darker impulses.

Hawke, who plays a father forced to defend himself and his family when their expensive security system breaks down during this blood-soaked free-for-all, chatted with reporters in Los Angeles recently about the film, which some critics have accused of glorifying violence and America's gun culture even as it ostensibly criticises it. The actor has given this apparent contradiction more than a little thought.

Hawke, who is also a novelist and Tony-nominated stage actor, waxes intellectual on this and a wide range of other topics during the expansive interview. Clearly delighted at the debate it is generating in the media, he tells Life! he will "be curious to see what people write about the movie, in regard to the fact that it's such a violent film with an anti-violent message".

"It begs the question of whether such a purge is an appropriate place to put our violence, and what we do with the violent part of our personalities."

Another big Hollywood name, Jim Carrey, recently boycotted the publicity tour of his own movie, Kick-Ass 2, because he decided it was too violent in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last year.

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