Seymour: An Introduction–Interview with Director Ethan Hawke

seymour_an_introduction_1Question: How did you first meet?

Ethan Hawke:  met Seymour at a dinner party. We were seated next to one another and I began confiding in him immediately. There is something magical about him that invites honesty.

Q: When you first met Seymour, did you think, “I should make a movie about this man?”

EH: It wasn’t really my idea. He invited me and a few friends over to his apartment and he played for us. I was transported. His friends seemed to have the same reaction. We knew he wasn’t giving anymore public concerts – so a documentary leapt to someone’s mind, who started pressing me to do it. I thought I would find someone else to do it, but then slowly realized I wanted to.

Q: Had you ever considered making a documentary portrait of anybody before?

EH: I’d written a profile on Kris Kristofferson once for Rolling Stone and enjoyed that–it felt a little bit like making a doc. I enjoy the process of meditating on the lives of artists that I admire.

seymour_an_introduction_2Q: How did Seymour react when you approached him with the idea?

EH: We just talked about it once. He’s a teacher- he’s always excited to teach.

Q: You’ve made several fiction films, and you’ve been an actor for decades. Was it a much different experience directing a documentary?

EH: It was more different than I could have ever imagined. I felt really lost with it. My respect for the form has exploded; its much more like writing, easy to get lost.

Q: What’s your musical experience – do you play any instruments?

EH: I am a simple fan. I love music like some people love church.

Q: Do you have to be a musician to benefit from Seymour’s lessons?

seymour_an_introduction_3EH:  My hope is no.  My hope is that by watching anyone excel in life there are profound lessons to be gained. Playing the piano, throwing the football, building an engine…

If you do anything well the secret to the universe seems momentarily unveiled…

My hope is that what Seymour has to say about the piano- could be relevant to being a good parent, friend, co-worker, anything. And if you are interested in the arts – I have no doubt that what he has to say will speak to you.