This Gattaca Moment Became Ethan Hawke's Favorite Line He's Ever Said In A Movie

Few people in Hollywood have the same passion for their craft that Ethan Hawke does. Watching him talk about acting is just as engrossing as when he actually performs; all the more remarkable since he never phones in a performance. Just this past year, he stretched his legs as a slasher villain in "The Black Phone" and made an impression despite a swift death in "The Northman." However, even though he's never been starved for work, some of his fondest movie memories are from a 25-year-old production: "Gattaca."

For one, it's where he met his one-time wife Uma Thurman, so he has "Gattaca" to thank for his daughter, actress Maya Hawke. The movie is also home to Hawke's favorite line that he's ever delivered on screen. "Gattaca" is set in a future where eugenic genetic engineering is the way of life (the title refers to components of DNA: Guanine, Adenine, Thymine, and Cytosine). Hawke plays Vincent Freeman, an "invalid" who was born naturally. Vincent is condemned to a lowly existence but dreams of being an astronaut. To do so, he impersonates the paralyzed "valid" Jerome Morrow (Jude Law).

Proudly pretentious

Ethan Hawke's favorite line takes place during a scene where Vincent confronts his valid brother Anton (Loren Dean). As children, the two would swim in the ocean and see who could get farthest from shore. Anton, owing to his "superior" genetics, always won. In the film's third act, they do it again as adults, only this time Vincent wins. Why? "I never saved anything for the trip back."

Hawke told Newsweek why he likes this line so much: "The moment reminds me of the George Bernard Shaw line, 'I want to be thoroughly used up when I die." The full quote is about living life to its fullest and leaving your mark on the world, notions that definitely fit Vincent's character arc.

Shaw, a 19th and 20th-century Irish playwright, has a special meaning for Hawke. The first time Hawke acted was in a production of Shaw's 1923 play, "Saint Joan," when he was only 12 years old. If you read or watch Hawke's interviews, it tracks that he explains himself by citing a great artist. The man lives and breathes art, from poetry to music to cinema. He's given an enrapturing TED Talk on the virtues of creativity and even defended being pretentious ("you're only pretentious if you can't laugh"). Even so, Hawke is proof that "pretentious" doesn't mean "conceited." In those same talks, he's gracious and enthusiastic, desiring to spread his creative spirit instead of dismissing the same spark in others.

One lesson of "Gattaca" is people can't be easily defined; Hawke's various, contradictory traits ("pretentious and self-serious and full of himself and wildly insecure") are proof of that onscreen and off.