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Ethan Hawke explains why he changed his mind about accepting kidnapper role in The Black Phone


Ethan Hawke has opened up about his decision to accept the role of a kidnapper in the film The Black Phone.

The supernatural horror-thriller, which was released in the UK last month, features the actor as a serial child abductor nicknamed The Grabber.

Throughout the film, one of his victims uses a mysterious telephone to communicate with fellow children and teenagers who have previously been captured.

Initially, the actor turned down the role, despite being keen to work with director Scott Derrickson after the 2012 film Sinister.

“I really wanted to work with Scott again after Sinister so I was happy when he approached me with the script,” Hawke told

“But then he told me about it and that I would be playing someone who abducts and kills children. And I was like, ‘Scott, I don’t want to play that guy.’”

However, after giving the script a look, he found that there was more to the film than the horror of his character and wanted to be a part of sharing the story.

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“At its core, it’s really about how kids grow up,” Hawke explained.

“It’s a coming-of-age story about growing up and learning to survive by taking care of yourself. The brother-and-sister storyline was also so moving to me that I wanted to help him get the movie made.”

The film rarely shows Hawke’s face. Instead, he appears in a range of disturbing masks. Without being able to use his facial expressions to emote, the actor had to rely mostly on his voice – a task he relished.

“The mask element was really exciting and weird, and I felt like taking on a challenge,” he added. “I’d done a little mask work in drama school while studying Greek theatre. Everything becomes about the voice and the body language. I thought that could be a unique challenge.

“It felt like, ‘I guess this is where the universe wants me to go’.”

In other recent discussions about his work, Hawke has said that he’s approaching the end of his career, explaining: “I only have so many movies left.”


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