Ethan Hawke: Access Your Subconscious to Achieve Creativity

Ethan Hawke: Access Your Subconscious to Achieve Creativity


When I first started trying to write – because
I came on writing as an actor and you realize very quickly that there’s a big difference
between being ambiguous and being vague. And being vague is out of focus, blurry, oh
yeah everything’s kind of true. In being ambiguous is a little bit more than
a Zen comb, you know, you’re ringing a bell towards a larger truth. And you’re guiding an audience to think
for themselves rather than dictating an answer. That to me is ambiguity at its finest. For example when I worked on Boyhood with
Richard Linklater there was a large component and I have no other word for it than what
I’ve read about in jazz. The beauty of jazz music is that there’s
no plan. There’s a plan. There’s an architecture. Let’s take something obvious like my favorite
things, right. John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things. If people know one jazz thing often they’ll
know that one. And he takes this famous song, da, da, da,
da, da, right. And they all start riffing on it and the musicians
start riffing on it and they find a new melody inside it. And it changes and it changes. And then mysteriously comes back around again
and spontaneity mixed with discipline and intelligence it evolves into something you
cannot plan that is more sophisticated and more interesting than something the intellectual
mind can plan. When you’re really being creative at your
best you’ve used your discipline to open up your subconscious. You know, Bob Dylan has a great quote where
he says, you know, I didn’t write that man. When somebody says you don’t have an idea
for a song. Mama’s in the basement mixing up medicine. I’m on the pavement – that’s not like
oh I got an idea for a song. Let me write the Subterranean Homesick Blues,
right. It doesn’t work like that. It works like you’ve got something to say
and then it’s an antenna that goes up, right. And some people I think mistakenly think somebody
is channeling God or something like that. In a way you’re channeling yourself and
you’re channeling your own questions and your own seeking which is deeply connected
to your own. We all have it. We all have an essence, a center that us. We have it the day we’re born. And when you can access it then you can access
the subconscious. And that’s going to be more powerful and
more true than anything your intellectual mind has to say. I want to write a screenplay and I’m going
to write an important screenplay about the election process in America. Because I have something to say about it. I think it’s fraudulent. I think it’s stupid and I’m going to write
a screenplay about a woman, you know, and you start working on it and you have this
idea about what the result of the screenplay supposed to be. And what it’s kind of like saying I want
to win the game. You can’t win the game by trying to win
the game. You have to play the game and you have to
play the game well and you have to play it moment by moment well. And oftentimes if you’re right action, right
thought, right motivation, right work ethic you’ll win the game. But you can’t try to win the game. You’re jumping over hurdles. It’s like my kids sometimes – well they
know it’s wrong to lie but they don’t know why. So because they don’t know why it’s wrong
to lie they still think that if they can get away with it then it might not be wrong. And if you know why you’re not supposed
to lie then you know that it doesn’t matter whether you get away with it or not. I find creativity at its best is not working
towards a result. Yes, when we do the Before trilogy sometimes
I did these three films Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight and we often jam
ourselves into position meaning oh shit, we’ve gotten these people to agree to finance the
movie. We’ve got to start on August 1st and we
only have 20 pages. Like that happens. So yeah we do have an agenda to finish this
thing. But Richard Linklater’s patience is incredible. I mean we started Before Sunrise with a scene
in the script that just said scene 63, the best scene in the movie. Then we go to 64. It literally said the best scene in the movie. Jesse and Celine take their relationship to
a new level we haven’t discovered yet. And then it moved on. And we started the movie not knowing what
that is. And it oftentimes people will come up to me
on the street and say to me hey, I love Before Sunrise. That scene where they pretend to call each
other and talk to their best friend. That’s the scene where they pretend to be
on the phone with each other. And, you know, that scene happened in a very
mysterious way. Julie had an idea and then Rick had an idea
and then I said an idea and all of a sudden the scene happened. It happened a couple of days before and Rick
has an unbelievable patience meter. It comes from playing baseball that you wait
for the right pitch and you don’t swing until you have to. And it creates an energy where Rick doesn’t
think he knows the right answer.

50 thoughts on “Ethan Hawke: Access Your Subconscious to Achieve Creativity

  1. good one

  2. Love it

  3. i'll have what he's having!

  4. Wow. I wasn't expecting that, especially from a very handsome and popular Hollywood celebrity.
    I had no idea about the depth of Ethan Hawke's creativity & wisdom. I'm going to add this video to my Rewatch playlist.
    He articulated so well the process of the artist, and a playbook (unintended pun) for life.
    Thank you, Big Think and Ethan.

  5. But where does the subconscious comes from. Cue David Chalmers.

  6. I love this man and his movie

  7. you must be empty like a vessel to realize that you are full.

  8. wow this is so important. these are the stories that need to be told. or whatever.

  9. This is why I love this man as an artist. He's been in so many great films, bringing to life great characters. And he's such a deep thinker.

  10. I wonder what he would say to the philosophers that infer that 'the self' is an illusion.

    I mostly agree with his ideas on creativity, but I don't believe we all have a 'core-self' from birth.

  11. I have so much more respect for this guy now. I was kinda bummed when the vid ended haha

  12. Cant believe people really think Hollywood stars are just brainless line readers

  13. I'd think this is more of the preconscious than the subconscious. I don't think the subconscious has that much effect unless we are dreaming.

  14. I just hope he is using it legally 😛

  15. I liked his Bob Dylan impression.

  16. i see the disciplined skilled spontaneity in drawings, paintings, and even in basketball players.

  17. it's called FLOW

  18. This was incredibly insightful and useful.

  19. dead poets society rocked. definitely feeling ya. especially when you speak about how its learning to channel self. to channel what you have learned. lots of zen meditators experience oneness and then assume a gnostic position. its wierd. from seeking to understand the nature of self they arrive at a position of clarity. this clarity then becomes blinding and they assume they are tapping into something deeper in the universe where they should not. at least not given an agnostic viewpoint. they have a deeper understanding of their own self that is true and being unable to seperate self from the experience of self they go and start making claims that have no root in reality. fear of death is that powerful im guessing. it becomes the wish fulfilling gem empty and illusory. there is that which surpasses the wish fulfilling gem. that is the determination to achieve and you know full well the value of that determination based on what you have shared.

  20. He kind of just babbled and barely sad anything about the subject just told stories.

  21. All these creative intellectual (rich fucking) people like Jazz… and make comparisons.

  22. He's good.

  23. Fuck This cliche line of thought , go ethan you can do better than this

  24. Beautiful video!

  25. get over your self ethan…..

  26. great video thank you Ethan

  27. There is wisdom in his words. The wording could be a bit better though (for communicating to others)

  28. Holy shit. I had no idea Ethan was this down to earth.

  29. the process when one is creating is such a trip & you never know when you hit those high notes that motivate you too keep going & let the inspiration flow

  30. The best music I've ever written comes from jams and what I hear in my head. I love watching him struggle to describe what he's saying, because in reality, what he's saying is hard to put into words. In hindsight, it's hard to think about the steps you took to create a piece of art. When you have a general goal which you wish to end up at, and throw that goal into the backseat or put it in your subconscious per se, the creation process naturally works toward the goal, or perhaps somewhere better.

  31. him and linklater are joined at the hip..loved the before sereis

  32. Almost didn't watch this because I didn't realise how awesome Ethan Hawke is. I mean, I like him in movies but most actors are so disappointing when they're themselves.

  33. I subbed because Penn Jillette. The quality of the speakers lately has sucked.

  34. holy sh… one of the best talks

  35. More please!

  36. talking about "vague"

  37. Fill it up regular. Oh sorry thought I was getting gas.

  38. Yes. Correct.

  39. Mindblowing…

  40. I bumped into Mr. Hawke in a Goodwill store in New York about 18 years ago and he was so polite. Then a few moments later we had one of those double excuse-me-excuse-me moments and we both laughed. His getup in this video made me think of this. Cool guy with smarts.

  41. This, is why I like you so much Ethan.

  42. Wow. This helped me more than any other video Ive ever seen. Truly. Thanks Ethan!!

  43. It almost sounds to me as if Ethan Hawke is describing what I understand to be intuition. One's intuition is a storehouse of incredible wisdom and knowledge. However, information provided by the intuition has to be rationally scrutinised by the intellect before action is taken. Intuition, like the intellect is fallible. They just become less fallible when they align.

  44. Shared

  45. Shared. Good man

  46. THANKS FOR NOT PUTTING HORRIBLE EPIC MUSIC OVER THIS. I'M NOT YELLING YOU'RE YELLING.

  47. i like how he explain ‘ambiguous ‘ n ’vogue’, master wugui is being ambiguous, my pretentious coworker is being vogue

  48. Ethan Hawke… what a brilliant man!
    Thanks for sharing big think.

  49. Bullshit. Read "fast and slow thinking".

  50. OK Ethan settle down

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