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Maya Hawke Opens Up About Growing Up In The Spotlight and Her New Film Asteroid City

“I have struggled in my own life, growing up the way that I did, around such beautiful people.”
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Maya Hawke opens up about growing up in the spotlight and working with Wes Anderson on his new film Asteroid City.

Marie Claire: Asteroid City has an incredible cast, including Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson and Jason Schwartzman, who you worked with on the 2020 film Mainstream. Are you two friends?

Maya Hawke: A little bit. My first experience with Jason is a story I love to tell. On Mainstream he came and knocked on the door of my dressing room. He said, “Do you ever cut glass? I’ve got a glass cutter, want to try?” And I was like, “Absolutely!” He and I both like to bring little props with us everywhere we go – little games to play or pens or a notebook – just in case nobody wants to talk to us. And so he brought a little glass cutter. And so I went into his dressing room and we cut glass. I felt like I’d met a kindred spirit!

MC: Your character June is a schoolteacher who arrives in this fictional desert town of Asteroid City with her kids. Did you feel like a teacher?

MH: I maybe felt slightly more like a nanny than a teacher in that I wasn’t teaching them anything particularly. Or maybe more like a border collie, running circles around them, kind of herding them a little bit! But I got to know all of them quite well. And I adored them. And it was such a fun part of it. I love working with kids.

Maya Hawke
Maya Hawke and mum, Uma Thurman. (Credit: Photo: Getty.)

MC: The film’s director, Wes Anderson, loves to create a family atmosphere on set. What was that like?

MH: We had some wonderful nights sitting around, singing and playing together. I mostly joined in with my voice. I’m a shy guitar player. My bandmates [Hawke has released two albums: Blush in 2020 and Moss in 2022] call me the world’s quietest guitar player! 

MC: Your mum is Uma Thurman and your dad is Ethan HawkeWhat did your actor parents teach you about the business?

MH: My parents mostly kept me out of the public eye. I wasn’t dragged around to red carpets for the most part and I wasn’t aware of that being part of our life. They kept it very separate. And I was there for the creative part. I was there witnessing them work and I was there for the home part, but I wasn’t really there for this [meeting the press] part, most of the time, and it was for a reason. They wanted me to make an educated but individual choice about what I wanted to do with my life – not wake up one day and find myself a socialite. So it was a conscious and I think very loving choice.

Maya Hawle
Hawke in Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City. (Credit: Supplied.)

MC: It’s curious that Asteroid City has a Western theme and your dad has just worked with filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar on the gay cowboy short film Strange Way of Life

MH: Yes! A lot of my understanding of Americana – that sort of American culture – does come from my father. He’s fascinated by it. I don’t know if you saw the documentary [the 2022 miniseries The Last Movie Stars] he did about [actors] Paul [Newman] and Joanne [Woodward]. It’s amazing. He’s sort of very steeped in that culture and very curious about it.

MC: It sounds like you had a pretty idyllic childhood in some ways …

MH: I’ve been very lucky to have a pretty cultured upbringing and to get to learn about and understand different parts of the world, and understand the history of the theatre and acting.

MC: Most fans tend to view movies as glamorous. Would you agree?

MH: There are moments in the experience of working in this business that are incredibly glamorous. Most of the time it isn’t. Most of the time it’s four in the morning and sweatpants. And you’ve got six pimples on your face. It’s a lot of waiting, a lot of loneliness, a lot of rejection, a lot of hard work, but it has these moments of glory.

Maya Hawke
(Credit: Photo: Getty.)

MC: Is it difficult to live up to the idealised standards of beauty that the film industry often demands?

MH: I have struggled for sure in my own life … even in growing up the way that I did around such beautiful people and having insecurity and worrying about when I was gonna go through puberty and was it going to be enough. I remember my mom talking about a day I came home from school and stopped eating cookies. All of a sudden at dinner I didn’t want cookies anymore. Whatever. It was this tiny thing. But this imagery impacts the way that we see ourselves and the way we see each other.

MC: Do you have ambitions to direct?

MH: I have ambition to keep learning and growing as a creative person and to keep rising to the challenges that I create for myself and the challenges put in front of me by others. I don’t think that I’m ready to do that now, but I don’t want to say no. I have no idea who I’ll be.

Asteroid City is in cinemas from August 10.

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