August 18, 2007

"There's a certain geometry to life... life has a certain math equation to it..."

Actually, it doesn't, and that -- from Ethan Hawke -- is from the most pathetic justification for a failed celebrity marriage that I've ever read.
"It's unfair when one person's career is taking off and the other is really suffering. "What happens -- it's not that they're jealous of each other; it's that the person you share your life with isn't in the mood to support. You want to have a pity party for yourself, but they're off to the Golden Globes and you don't want to go because everyone is going to think you are jealous. "There's a certain geometry to life -- that life has a certain math equation to it and if you're never together, you can't build a home. "Joanne Woodward put her career on the back burner for that marriage (to Paul Newman) to last. And something's got to give."

1. As the first commenter over at the link says, why didn't he put his career on the back burner for Uma? 

2. He had Uma! He should have done everything for her. 

3. Uma could come over there and kick his ass


4. He didn't want to go to the Golden Globes because somehow everyone would infer that he was jealous, but he says so now, which makes it obvious that he was jealous. 



 7. Whining is a dangerous game. Don't do it. Especially about Uma.


Ron said...

Let's put it this way...since it seems Julie Delpy and Winona "Five Finger Discount" Ryder appear to be more studly than he in those clips, Uma should be able to spank him with a slide rule! "Math equation, eh?"

Ron said...

He seems to be one of those kind of spouses you need to experience in life to develop the self-confidence to know you don't a spouse like him!

ricpic said...

Va va vooma Uma Uma Uma!

I wouldn't kick her out of bed. But then I couldn't get her into bed in the first place. Life is so unfair. Boo friggin' hoo.

KCFleming said...

He tries to put a good face on it, though. I mean, comparing it to geometry and all. Good effort!

But it's the cry of a wounded man, wounded in pride.

Our culture is not too kind to kept men. A woman can stay at home, and nothing more need be said. A man who fails at success, or who achieves less of it than his wife is roundly mocked, as we do here. He does not really have the option of being a househusband. Feminism never succeeded at legitimizing that approach, at least not in the higher echelons of society.

Ann Althouse said...

He doesn't have to be a "househusband." He can have a less glitzy but honorable career in the arts. It's up to him to be manly about it. Acting depressed about it and whining is the least manly thing of all. You can't keep an Uma if you do that.

Paddy O said...

acting depressed and whining about it

Maybe I'm mistaken... but isn't this exactly why Ethan Hawke is famous to begin with. He was the poster boy for 90s "acting depressed and whining about it" Gen-X angst.

And really, I think he's right. Just not using any of the typical "we grew apart" sort of excuses. He's owning up to his jealousy and saying out loud what affects a whole lot of marriages, Hollywood or not.

Maybe we're just not supposed to say that kind of stuff out loud.

What's interesting is that he's not blaming her. He's not diminishing her. He's taking it on himself. Admitting his own emotions and failings.

I think he's also saying that he couldn't be the Joanne Woodward, neither could she,and so something broke.

Does seem that his career is taking off a bit. IMBD shows a few movies coming up, including one with a release year of 2013. Now that's long range career planning!

KCFleming said...

Acting depressed about it and whining is the least manly thing of all.

He can have a less glitzy but honorable career in the arts. It's up to him to be manly about it.
Not really. He'd still be mocked. That's the way the game's played. He could do it, yes. He would need to accept alot of things someone of his age and aspirations is unwilling to do, even for Uma. Men don't consider it manly, frankly, to disappear. And as I read in People magazine, neither do women.

And successful women are no different from successful men, finding their first choice inferior once they rise. We know nothing of their relationship. Isn't it at all possible that it was not just he but also she who despised his failure?

He has much to grow up about. Everyone fails. The history of the whole human race is that of repeated failures. The manly thing to do would be to shut up, dust yourself off, and keep going. A manly man wouldn't give a shit how other men saw him.

Hawke is but a child still. His reaction is that of the average man. I was not defending him, but explaining what I guessed was his viewpoint. I think I'm right about how he sees it, but I think he's wrong to pursue it.

vet66 said...

Ethan Hawke, that is a tough name to live up to, should jump on the Uma bandwagon and enjoy the ride.

What a putz!

red clay said...

nothing wrong with him that a thorough beating wouldn't fix.

kentuckyliz said...

He loves his insecurity and wounded pride more than Uma.

He's too selfish to marry.

Peter Hoh said...

Yeah, there's a certain math to marriage. 1+1=2, and at the same time, 1+1=1.

Marriage can work when a woman's career and financial success eclipses her husband's, but it's not a cultural model that's celebrated.

Even after it's "mapped out," individual couples will have to negotiate this territory for themselves, just as all couples have to negotiate their circumstances for themselves.

Hawke says: ""It's unfair when one person's career is taking off and the other is really suffering."

Now I may be taking this out of context, but this strikes me as the kind of unrealistic expectation for life and marriage that breeds unhappiness.

Change happens in every marriage. Spouses fail to meet their spouses' expectations in every marriage. Spouses feel hurt and left out in every marriage.

Expecting otherwise is folly.

Figuring out how to deal with the ups and downs, disillusionments, and general stuff of life and couplehood is the lifelong task of marriage.

This is not to imply that those whose marriages end in divorce have somehow failed at the above. I suspect that a good number of divorced couples tried. Likewise, a good number of couples who've stayed married have failed at the task of marriage.

Troy said...

Did Joanne Woodward consciously step back or was she just not as popular as Paul Newman? She obviously had to suck it up and know she would never be Cool Hand Luke or Butch (or was it Sundance) or the drunk lawyer....

Ethan is one of those post modern namby pamby Hollywood "men". He can act, but he's no Paul Newman either. Ethan can't eat 50 eggs, much less check his ego and go to the Globes.

marklewin said...

Ethan.....Ann says "Man Up dammit!". You better do what your told!

About 20 years ago, before the rise of the internet, I met two psychologists, who happened to be husband and wife, who wrote a book on marriage and marital therapy called: "In Quest Of The Mythical Mate: A Developmental Approach To Diagnosis And Treatment In Couples Therapy"(Ellyn Bader and Peter T. Pearson.) They creatively applied Margaret Mahler's model of psychological development to romantic relationships and marriage. From their perspective, marriages were at risk when one member of the couple was at a different stage of psychological development than their partner and the couple is unable to reconcile these differences. Mahler's exquisite and powerful theories of the development of the self in the infant and baby has been very influential in psychology and child development.

Lo and behold, twenty years later, Bader and Peterson have a website promoting their views on marriage and marital therapy (

and...Peter Hoh....good stuff!

AllenS said...

Divorce numbers are up all over the country. Moreso in Hollywood. I guess when people who make their living pretending to be someone they're not, especially have a hard time living lives in reality. With all the ups and downs of life.

But, man, I'll bet this guy could tell some really good stories about nailing Uma.

Trooper York said...

Ethan Hawke isn't just a douche..he's a whole bag full of douches...A real man is happy for his wife and supports her in whatever she does...if it's a legal career or raising the kids or freelancing or attempting to write the great american novel...I have run into this douche around town and he doesn't tip for beans and treats the waitstaff and barmen like crap...and I know that he was the driving force behind Uma's anger-filled performance in my Super Ex Girlfriend

Anonymous said...

I dunno... whining about Uma in "The Avengers" seems entirely appropriate. Heck, even Uma did so, apologizing for her performance. To be fair, though, what woman in her right mind would say to herself "Sure, I'll follow Diana Rigg?"

reader_iam said...

Wait, their 6-year marriage ended in 2004. This is 2007. Mired much?


Not related to this story or Hawke specifically, and I realize the following is blogasphemy, but maybe it's worth considering whether people's gleeful joy in mocking is at least as much a problem as, and more reprehensible than, the reaction of the mocked.

reader_iam said...

Speaking of blasphemy, and with a broad brush, I think Joanne Woodward was a better actor (though not celebrity or even entertainer) than Paul Newman.

Mock away.

; )

dbp said...

It is really too bad that he let a negative perspective wreck his marriage when a positive one was just as available:

Okay, so Uma might make more money from one movie than Ethan makes in his whole career: That is one perspective. Here is another: She makes so much on big commercial movies that she can't turn-down such roles, the opportunity cost of doing an art film is the huge paycheck she could have gotten from doing a commercial film instead. Ethan on the other hand is a respected actor who can do art films exclusively.

From the standpoint of acting as art v. as business, Ethan really had the better deal.


Christy said...

I tend to not hold people accountable for what they say in the zillionth interview question about a personal failure. Only Hillary Clinton is disciplined enough to stay on message. I'd probably start answering in non sequitors myself.

Christy said...


I don't usually correct my spelling errors, but I guess I'm feeling vulnerable. It's like a math equation. You are all so smart and it's not that I'm jealous. It's just that I feel you won't be supportive unless you can see I'm smart, too.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Chad Lowe

Jeff with one 'f' said...

"Joanne Woodward was a better actor..."

She was (is) an actress.

reader_iam said...

But is she a better drivress? More on point: entertainress?

If it makes you feel better, Jeff, I'll take the time to write: "I think Joanne Woodward was a better actress than Paul Newman was an actor.


Oh, and I used "WAS" on purpose and for a specific reason, too, dude.

Ann Althouse said...

We think you're smart, Christy. Anyway, you made a point I feel bad about not making up front. It was just something he said one day. Highlighted, it's so mockable, but he probably said a lot of other things too. And as somebody up there said, he deserves credit for not blaming her. Maybe he's really just expressing sadness about losing her. I mean, I can't get over it that he had Uma. That was enough. You can't complain after that.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Peter Hoh: I agree that some people who stay married aren't in great relationships; however, I believe that when a couple actually gets a divorce, they are admitting to failing at the marriage thing. The divorce is like pulling life support off a dying loved one. Who divorces and has a better relationship? I will concede Prince Andrew and Sara "Fergie" Ferguson, Duchess of York, seem to have navigated something beneficent. Would that we could all have adjoining castles.

Also: Hawke and Thurman have children together which means that even though the divorce happened a few years ago, the contact with the former mate continues, and, perhaps, so does the pain of failure or regret.

Revenant said...

Not really. He'd still be mocked. That's the way the game's played.

People don't mock Don Gummer or Jim Simpson. The problem with actor marriages is that actors tend to have ridiculous egos that don't allow them to concede the spotlight to anyone else, their own spouse included.

blake said...

For some reason I'm reminded of Clint Howard. Older brother Ron always had the "better" career. In classic films like the Music Man and a decade-defining shows like "Happy Days" and "The Andy Griffith Show", switching smoothly into directing, winning Oscars.

I'll never forget this interview with Clint where he's talking about how his brother calls him sometimes after a shoot and asks about all the details--and you can hear a little envy, but from Ron. His productions involve thousands of people, and years of his life, while his brother is out doing movies with three-day shoots.

It's perhaps a propos of nothing and I wouldn't suggest that most low-budget workers wouldn't switch places with their higher-budget counterparts, but this sort of jealousy (whether or not Mr. Hawke really feels it or is just rambling in an attempt to make sense of life) seems ungrateful.

Kirby Olson said...

The math is a new way to make his decision to divorce into a passive stance. Math, objectively, led to my ... subjective ... decision ... to divorce.

Uma's nose is poorly constructed is what he should have said.

Kirk Parker said...


"We know nothing of their relationship."

Spot on. In addition, while Uma may be a hot property as an actress, who knows what kind of person she is as a spouse?

Peter Hoh said...

Ruth Anne, I am wary when writing about mariage. The subject matter is rather complex, and it's too easy to make sweeping generalizations.

My comments about how to make a marriage work are not to be read as blanket condmenations of those whose marriages ended in divorce. That was the point of my final paragraph in my earlier comment.

Can some couples have better relationships post-divorce? This was not part of my initial commentary, but since you raised it, I'll answer.

I suspect that it is indeed possible for some couples to have better relationships after a divorce. As evidence, I'll point out that there are couples who remarry each other after some length of time spent divorced from each other. Or maybe those who follow this path are just gluttons for punishment.

Revenant said...

Divorce numbers are up all over the country.

I realize that the above claim wasn't really central to your larger point, but divorce rates aren't up. Both the percentage of marriages that end in divorce and the number of divorces per capita have been declining for decades.

Unknown said...

Paraphrasing (or butchering) Bob Hope: "Marriage is getting more popular these days. I know people in Hollywood who are marrying people they've never married before."

marklewin said...

Revenant said...
Both the percentage of marriages that end in divorce and the number of divorces per capita have been declining for decades.

I've read that too. I believe I also read somewhere that the rates of marriage have also been declining since the 1970's.

Anonymous said...

I never thought Uma Thurman was attractive. Horse faces never spark me.

Revenant said...

I believe I also read somewhere that the rates of marriage have also been declining since the 1970's.

Yes, that too.

Amusingly enough, while both per capita marriage and divorce rates have been dropping for many years, we STILL rank #1 in both categories worldwide. Make of that what you will.

Galvanized said...

Just a party making notes while performing a marital autopsy. It's always painful for me to listen to someone say why their marriage failed because 1) it's really no one's business but theirs and 2) there are so many factors that play into it. Sometimes, it can be just as a simple as, "It got boring." But no one ever really wants to say that because it sounds too arrogant or immature. Understandable.

Just from a little past reading on Hawke, it looks like he would rather be a writer/playwright/director than an actor anyway, so it would have been like apples and oranges to compare their careers. Still, maybe he just likes to ponder it out loud for other reasons, maybe for her to hear.

But Reality Bites -- I always liked that movie. I really like him as an actor, even though he's looking a little cadaverous and pasty lately, but maybe it's just all that writing and smoking in a blinds-turned room.

marklewin said...

Revenant said...

Amusingly enough, while both per capita marriage and divorce rates have been dropping for many years, we STILL rank #1 in both categories worldwide. Make of that what you will.

Vegas, baby.

Harkonnendog said...

Well uh, somebody has to say it... he had Uma when she was at her best.

Not too shabby.