Ethan Hawke on Why Vincent D'Onofrio Deserves an Oscar More than 'Some British Dork'
After a year of listening to Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast, maybe the biggest thing I’ve taken away from the experience — besides the fact that Shepard can find a frame of reference in his own career or personal life to anything — is that Vincent D’Onofrio may be the most underappreciated actor in the business and one of the most well-liked. Granted, he’s gone through some sh*t, and he essentially had a breakdown on the set of Law & Order: Criminal Intent a while back and alienated everyone on that cast, but he’s since recovered and quietly amassed one hell of a résumé.
A few months ago, D’Onofrio appeared as a guest in one of Shepard’s better episodes of the Armchair Expert, but last month, he showed up again in a live taping alongside Ethan Hawke. Mostly, he was there as the middleman to help facilitate the interview — D’Onofrio is very good friends with Shepard and seemingly best friends with Hawke, and Shepard and Hawke didn’t know each other, so D’Onofrio was the human icebreaker.
But as much as the podcast was about Hawke (who is far more insightful than I might have previously given him credit for), it was again about D’Onofrio, because Hawke adores him. In fact, Hawke recently wrote and directed a film about Blaze Foley (Blaze) and he hired a musician, Ben Dickey, who had never acted before, as the lead. He sent him to D’Onofrio to basically teach him how to act. Dickey picked it up quickly, so quickly that D’Onofrio subsequently cast Dickey in a film he directed about Billy the Kid (The Kid) starring Ethan Hawke and Chris Pratt.
Anyway, this is all sort of beside the point, except that Hawke said something in the podcast that kind of blew me away both for how insightful it was and how obvious it is not just as it pertains to D’Onofrio, but to acting in general. I just needed to memorialize it here.
“Every year, you watch the Oscars and you watch this big, showy performances and I’ll lean over to my wife and say, ‘It’s so funny about acting. Right? Most of the people who win these prizes are working with a world-class director with a world-class cinematographer with the best — with Pulitzer-prize winning screenwriter, they’ve got the best musicians scoring. If you weren’t good in those movies, you suck.’ But if you watch Criminal Intent every night? Like, this is an Academy winning performance. There’s no lighting. There’s no writing. There’s no plot. And this guy is fucking brilliant. And they’re gonna give it to some British dork? Jesus. It makes me crazy.”
In some ways, he’s not wrong, and I don’t know what British Oscar-winning actor Hawke might be referring to, but I like to think it’s this one.
It’s also kind of insane that, after more than 30 years in the business, D’Onofrio still has no Oscars (how did they not give him one for Full Metal Jacket) or Emmys (and only one Emmy nom, for Homicide: Life on the Streets). Someone get this guy a world-class director and writer.
Source: Armchair Expert
Header Image Source: Getty
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