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The Black Phone sees Ethan Hawke taking on the horrifying role of The Grabber. Hawke is not traditionally known for playing villains, but he is a great actor and is very creepy as this character. Hawke shares how and why he left his comfort zone to take on this villainous role. 

Ethan Hawke plays The Grabber in ‘The Black Phone’

Ethan Hawke, who plays The Grabber in The Black Phone, attends the premiere of Moon Knight
Ethan Hawke | Leon Bennett/Getty Images

The Black Phone is another horror movie by Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson. Derrickson and Hawke previously worked together on Sinister. This time, Ethan Hawke is taking on the role of the horror villain known as The Grabber. He is a terrifying serial killer who kidnaps kids and later kills them, leading to a mystery around town around the disappearing boys.

Hawke often plays more likable roles like in Training Day and the Before Sunrise series. However, 2022 has seen a change for the actor as he has played two villains so far in The Black Phone and in Moon Knight. The Grabber is more horrifying than Arthur Harrow in Moon Knight, but the two still showcase Hawke’s ability to be sinister. 

Hawke wanted to get out of his ‘wheelhouse’ by playing The Grabber

In an interview with Uproxx, Hawke shares that he was initially skeptical of playing a character called The Grabber in The Black Phone when Derrickson contacted him for the role. Once he read the script, he just thought it sounded like a good movie and he wanted to be involved. 

“When Scott called me up and said that he was sending the script and told me a little bit about it, and I laughed and I was talking to him and said, ‘Listen, Scott, I’m dying to work with you again, but there’s no way in hell I’m playing a character called The Grabber,’” Hawke says. “He said, ‘Yeah, I want you to play The Grabber, he’s the guy that abducts and kills children.’” 

“I’m like, ‘Are you nuts? I’m not playing that character.’ And he’s like, ‘Well, just read it then,’” Hawke continues. “I warned him before I read it. But then I read it and it just seemed like a really good genre movie to me. And I thought that the mask work was something I’d never done before. And exactly all the reasons why I didn’t want to do it might be exactly the reasons why I should do it.”

Additionally, Hawke was intrigued by the role because it gave him an opportunity to do something “outside [his] wheelhouse.”

“Also, let’s face it, actors, we only go as far as our opportunities,” Hawke explains. “When you have an opportunity to work with a top-tier director, you just have to do it. Basically, my theory about it, Scott’s really smart. He knows how to make a good movie. If it doesn’t work, it won’t work. And the downside of it working great is for the rest of my life, people will be calling me ‘The Grabber.’”

Hawke is ok with being known as a villain


‘The Black Phone’: Ethan Hawke Sent a Threatening Voicemail to the Director as The Grabber

The Black Phone has been receiving good reviews from critics and many are praising Ethan Hawke’s eerie performance as The Grabber. While Hawke says he is worried about being officially known as this character, he does recognize that people will be able to separate the actor from the character. 

“I think that when I was younger, I was really just slightly aware of the baggage that actors can create,” Hawke tells Uproxx. “When they really excel at playing a horrible person it does get harder for you to see them as a benevolent soul. Once Anthony Hopkins plays Hannibal Lecter, it’s hard to watch him as a sweet grandpa with the puppy, because you’re worried he is going to bite his head off. But then you get a little older and you realize that, ah, it’s okay. “

The Black Phone arrives in theaters on June 24.