According to Ethan Hawke, the director of The Truman Show, Peter Weir retired because of actors like Russell Crowe and Johnny Depp.
Popular and acclaimed filmmaker Peter Weir is, among other things, the director of Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show or The Paths to Freedom. After being nominated several times at the Oscars ceremony, in 2023 he will receive an honorary statuette for all of his work. Yet, despite his prestigious career, Weir has been out of business for almost a decade now. This retirement has never been commented on by the principal concerned or by anyone.
That was before Ethan Hawke. The actor recently opened up about Peter Weir during an interview with Indiewire, in which the journalist recalled that his early career owed a lot to the filmmaker (thanks to their collaboration in Dead Poets Society). And at that time, Ethan Hawke gave the reasons why the filmmaker had said stop at the cinema, according to him:
“I think he lost interest in making films. He loved his job when his actors didn’t give him trouble. Russell Crowe and Johnny Depp totally broke it. Yet it is so rare to see popular artists like him now. He makes mainstream films that remain artistic. But to have the budget to do The Truman Show or Master and Commander, you need a Jim Carrey or a Russell Crowe. I think Harrison Ford and Gerard Depardieu were that kind of actor too, but they were nicer to a director: they didn’t see themselves as more important than the rest.”
Ethan Hawke’s acidic commentary is not without surprise. The cause of Peter Weir’s retirement would be, according to him, the ego of certain actors who were a little too tumultuous on the set. Far from taking gloves, he even points the finger at big names like those of Russell Crowe and Johnny Depp.
Why these particular names? A choice maybe arbitrary, but the odds are slim. One of them certainly refers to one of Peter Weir’s last works. Master and Commander, the anti-Pirates of the Caribbean, had reunited the filmmaker with Russell Crowe on a shoot that was probably very trying. Despite Hawke’s statements, the two men raved about each other following the movie. However, the seven-year hiatus between that film and the director’s final feature seems to indicate that somehow Weie was exhausted at the end of filming.
As for Johnny Depp, if he is curious to see him mentioned (he has never appeared in a Peter Weir film), Ethan Hawke is undoubtedly referring to Shantaram, unfinished project entrusted to Peter Weir after Master and Commander. Johnny Depp was supposed to have a part in it before the filmmaker jumped ship over artistic disagreement. Little more is known, but once again Hawke’s allegations rather suggest a major discord between Weir and his actorshaving pushed him to abandon a film.
Finally, we must be wary of hazardous ad hominem accusations and here we must above all remember that the blame of Ethan Hawke (who is getting a lot of rants at the moment) is rather aimed at the entire profession. It is indeed the ego of the superstar actors that he calls into question and the difficulty for artists to work under conditions that are less and less favorable to them and where they are forced to hire famous comedians to film with.
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Johnny Depp and Russell Crowe Shattered a Superdirector’s Career, According to Ethan Hawke