Russell Crowe and Johnny Depp ‘Broke’ Director Peter Weir, Ethan Hawke Says

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Don’t count on any Ethan Hawke collabs with Russell Crowe or Johnny Depp after the “Dead Poets Society” star chalked up director Peter Weir’s 12-year absence from Hollywood to two leading men who “gave him a hard time.”

While speaking to IndieWire about his new six-part Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward HBO Max documentary, “The Last Movie Stars,” Hawke was asked about his “Dead Poets Society” director, who is receiving an honorary Oscar. Why hasn’t the director of “Witness,” “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” and “The Truman Show” made a movie since 2010’s “The Way Back”?

“I think he lost interest in movies. He really enjoyed that work when he didn’t have actors giving him a hard time. Russell Crowe and Johnny Depp broke him,” Hawke said.

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Crowe starred in the 2003 period film “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” which fans hoped would become a series, and Weir quit the Depp movie “Shantaram” in 2014. At the time, a spokesman for Warner Bros. said, “Peter moved on from this film because his interpretation of it differed greatly than that of the studio and producers.”

Hawke hasn’t worked with Weir since 1989’s “Dead Poets Society” and seems to think he won’t ever have the chance again. “He’s someone so rare these days, a popular artist,” Hawke said. “He makes mainstream movies that are artistic… I think Harrison Ford and Gerard Depardieu were his sort of actors,” he said, referring to the stars of Weir films “Witness” and “Green Card.” “They were director-friendly and didn’t see themselves as important.”

Happily, Hawke has found a way to balance artistic expression with more commercial projects. He gets to make personal, artistic films like “First Reformed” and TV series like Showtime’s “The Good Lord Bird,” which he also produced, and bigger mainstream projects, like his villainous turn in Marvel’s “Moon Knight.”

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And unlike Newman, who hated making ’70s disaster movie “The Towering Inferno,” Hawke had fun “play[ing] in Marvel’s sandbox” with Oscar Isaac,” which he calls “a really good experience.”

“[Newman] was resisting becoming a brand at the same time that the industry was telling him that you’ve gotta pay to play. If you don’t make people money, you don’t have creative freedom,” Hawke said. “We can make fun of ‘Towering Inferno’ now, but that was the biggest movie of the year. He got 10 years of creative freedom because of that movie. He was smart to do it, even if it isn’t a movie that’s worth talking about in the legacy of his work.”

“The Last Movie Stars” debuts Thursday on HBO Max.

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