I entered this world in 1982, which means boys have been giving me butterflies in the tummy since approximately 1993. Like many, I harbor ridiculous crushes on celebrities (and a few mid-level musicians) that will never be realized. I know it’ll never happen IRL, but that’s ok. It’s not really about that; it’s that I enjoy getting wrapped up in the romantic fantasy of it all. Besides, it’s fun to feel all giggly when your “love” comes on the screen. In my 19 years of crushin’ hard, one man has always made my top ten list: Mr. Ethan Hawke. I stole a cassette copy of the Reality Bites soundtrack from my older sister, took one look at his perfectly tousled hair and I was hooked. See, Ethan Hawke is what I call “'90s hot”-- a distinct level of hotness appreciated and adored specifically by those who really dug My So-Called Life and 120 Minutes. Remarkably, this Oscar-nominated actor still manages to keep that look alive. As audiences gear up for Hawke’s latest venture thriller Getaway with Selena Gomez, I’ll reveal what Ethan Hawke has taught me about boys.
Mystery Date (1991)
Here Ethan Hawke plays Tom McHugh, a shy boy with a big crush on his neighbor’s hot, blonde house-sitter, Geena. Tom dreams of making a move on Geena, but feels he lacks the panache to really make an impression. His hotshot older brother Craig shows up from California to give him a credit card, a car and ample dating advice, and Tom snags a date. Before too long, Tom is mistaken for Craig, ends up involved in a myriad of crimes and shows Geena a date she’ll never forget. This is how dating is supposed to be, risky and raucous and full of adventure. Tom’s ultimate desire to impress Geena impressed me. Ethan taught me that when a boy really likes a girl, she knows it. Which also means the opposite is true, as was later re-confirmed by Greg Behrendt’s page-turner He’s Just Not That Into You. If he is not into you, he won’t be making any grand gestures, there won’t be any car chases or anything, there will just be a lot of flat conversation and maybe some unreturned texts. It is also refreshing to learn that boys get just as nervous as girls do about dates, maybe even more so. A boy who wants to impress a gal will go to painstaking lengths (potentially including cutting his hair and wearing phony glasses to appear intelligent) and likely won’t mind the trouble. It's a relief to know I’m not the only Nervous Nelly out there. (Trivia: Gwar makes an appearance in this film.)
Dead Poets Society (1989)
When Walt Whitman-obsessed English teacher Mr. Keating brings his unorthodox teaching methods to the prestigious Whelton Academy, the conservative boys in his class get an awakening they weren’t anticipating. Ethan Hawke plays Todd Anderson, a shy but smart student. With Mr. Keating’s coaching and encouragement, Todd looks within himself and realizes that he, too, is a poet. Ethan taught me that boys are full of feelings, real, deep ones too, but it may require some coaxing to get them out in the open. That’s right; they aren’t rigid, reticent, unfeeling balls of masculinity. They have tangible emotions too! Even the most stoic still contain some amount of passion. What’s important to know is that not all people express themselves in the same way. People require patience and discovery. Boys, like girls, are complex creatures. It’s simply about finding out how best to communicate. Ah-ha!