This morning, I Instagrammed a photo of my friend Alison with a caption about how she’d told me a funny story about running into Ethan Hawke. Suddenly, the comments came in fast and furious: “You’re not going to leave us hanging, are you??” said one reader. “Bring on the random Ethan Hawke run-in story!!” wrote another. “ALL Ethan Hawke stories are desired and relevant!” added a third.
So! Due to reader demand, I bring you Alison’s Ethan Hawke moment:
First, you should know that I am SO AWKWARD whenever I see a celebrity in real life. My brain short circuits, and suddenly I become a different person. I’m the 13-year-old version of myself, and I say weird stuff. With Rose Byrne, I just started talking to her on the street and she was like, what is happening, who are you.
Ethan Hawke lives in our Brooklyn neighborhood, and I see him once or twice a week. Of course, I’ve watched the Before Sunrise trilogy, Reality Bites, Boyhood, Great Expectations and Dead Poets Society; and Gattica is one of my husband’s favorite movies. But normally, when I spot him, there are enough people around and I can control myself.
But the other morning, my dad and I were getting coffee at Blank Street. We’re hamming it up with the baristas and talking about their travel plans for the summer, when the door opens and I turn around and Ethan Hawke is just standing there. He’s wearing a trucker hat and has a toothpick in his mouth (he always has a toothpick in his mouth), and he’s wearing this pajama-adjacent suit, which looked comfy and casual. So, I’m standing there waiting for my coffee, and I blurt out, ‘I really love your suit, it’s so cool, I want my husband to wear that.’ He was like, ‘Oh, yeah, thanks, my wife gave it to me for Christmas.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, I love it so much, do you mind if I take a photo of you in that suit to show my husband?‘
The baristas are staring in shock, but he is super gracious. So, I’m taking a photo of Ethan Hawke, and THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE END. I should have turned around and gone on with my day. But I was on a train barreling forward and I couldn’t stop.
So, I go on to say, ‘Do you know what the brand is?’ He says, ‘Oh, no, my wife got it for me.’ And I say, ‘Well, do you mind if I look at the tag?‘
At this point, the baristas are literally squirming. But Ethan Hawke says sure and leans toward me, and I’m trying to finagle the back of his shirt, and I finally snap a photo of the tag and his neck.
Ethan Hawke’s tag and neck
My dad, who’s not a big movie guy, has no clue who Ethan Hawke is. So, at this point, he turns and jumps in and says, ‘Well, you should be careful. She has lots of Instagram followers! She’ll make you FAMOUS.’ The baristas burst out laughing. Ethan Hawke looks confused. Finally — finally — we get our coffees and leave.
For the rest of the day, every time it popped into my head, I would cringe. Like, a full-body cringe. My husband was so embarrassed for me while I was telling him that that he kept leaving the room and coming back in. Mortifying.
Thank you, Alison! CoJ readers, have you run into famous people on the street, or at restaurants or airports? I’m so curious who you saw and how it went!
(Top illustration, based on Alison’s actual photo, by Alessandra Olanow.)