Ethan Hawke has been in Canada, and took the chance to have a chat with the Toronto Star, which wrote about the classic Nicholas Ray film, Rebel Without A Cause, to mark the start of the city’s Worldpride.
Rebel is seen by many as one of the seminal gay-themed films, although as it was made in the 1950s it’s all under the surface. The film includes the character of Plato (played by gay actor Sal Mineo) who becomes fascinated by James Dean’s Jim Stark. On the surface it seems like hero-worship, but many have interpreted it as a gay crush, something Dean’s character isn’t afraid of reciprocating with affection. Eventually Jim, Plato and Natalie Wood’s Judy become almost a surrogate family, who all receive something from one another they feel ‘normal’ society can’t give them.
Talking about the movie, Hawke says, “Nicholas Ray is such a great filmmaker and it’s a great example right now of how much more comfortable we are confronting sexuality than in the past. It doesn’t have to be all tucked away in innuendo any more, even in the way Tennessee Williams would have to tuck it away at the very end of his life.”
He hopes the increasingly presence of gay themes and characters in mainstream entertainment will have an increasingly positive effect, saying, “It’s been fascinating to me. One of the biggest differences I think between my generation and my kids is that they have almost zero homophobia. They’ve grown up thinking that it’s not a big deal to have gay characters on TV or in movies like Boys Don’t Cry or Kiss of the Spider Woman.
“There are all these things that started this (gay acceptance) ball rolling, and now people are really comfortable talking about it. I think you’ll see a lot less teen suicide in the coming years. I really do believe that.”