Hawke first saw the play when he was about 14 years old and confessed, “It made me want to be an actor, or be involved in whatever they were doing. So to get the chance to do it now is very meaningful to me.”
Currently in previews, the show officially opens at the American Airlines Theatre January 24—which means Hawke rehearsed through the holidays. “I gave my kids presents and in exchange they had to run lines with me,” he said.
Though Hawke has worked on numerous Shepard plays, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Buried Child, he reveres True West. “Buried Child is an amazing piece of literature but is hardly the card-carrying audience-pleaser that True West is. I said it!”
Still, Buried Child marked the first time that Hawke met Shepard. “Sam is there, I can't believe it. We read through the play. I'm really nervous,” he said. And then, when the two were in the men’s room, Shepard paid Hawke a compliment. Watch the video above for the full story.
“He is also one of the great American poets we've ever had,” Hawke said of Shepard. “He had the swagger of a real cowboy and he had the brains to back it up.”