Ethan Hawke Imagines A Fourth 'Before' Movie Set During The Coronavirus Pandemic

"Think of this as time travel." The greatest pick-up line in cinematic history or a prophecy of the swooning trilogy of films that would follow? When Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy first crossed paths in Richard Linklater's 1995 drama Before Sunrise, no one expected that we would follow the story of Jesse and Celine for 18 more years.

But now, as we come up on 9 years after the supposed final film Before Midnight (the magic number that spans the gap between each film), someone had to ask Hawke: will there be a fourth Before film? Hawke doesn't exactly say no, and even enthusiastically imagines a Before sequel that follows Jesse and Celine during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In an interview with IndieWire, Hawke suggested that, if it were to happen, a fourth Before movie would not follow the trajectory of the first three films, which all took place nine years apart.

"If the first three were all nine years apart, the fourth would not follow that trajectory," Hawke said in a Q&A that was live-streamed on Instagram. If we were to follow that trajectory, the fourth Before movie would be released in 2022, which would mean the trio of Hawke, Delpy, and Linklater would have to start shooting this year or next. While Hawke didn't confirm anything was in the works, he said that he and Linklater "think about it":

"Linklater would want a different path, either a short film set four years after 'Midnight' or a feature two decades in the future. We think about it. Those are the three best experiences of my life: 'Before Sunrise,' 'Before Sunset,' and 'Before Midnight.' They are a part of me. So the idea of revisiting it, I would have to believe we could make something as good."

"Those movies worked because all three of us were making the same exact movie every time," Hawke added.  "We enjoy working together and being together, but we have to make sure we have something to say."

But perhaps the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could be the source of inspiration for Hawke, Delpy, and Linklater to revisit those characters again. Hawke enthusiastically imagined what Jesse and Celine would be up to cooped up during the pandemic, expressly praising Delpy's potential take on the crisis:

"Wouldn't it be hysterical if the next movie was just them in isolation? If there's one person to make the world laugh about what's happening now it's Julie Delpy. I cant imagine what she would say about this. And Linklater is such a scientist. He has something powerful to say about this. Maybe this one should be set in Italy. Just go right into the fire and [Jesse and Celine] are singing with all those people on their porches."

That sounds like the exact kind of melancholic whimsy we love about the Before trilogy: Jesse and Celine stuck in a small Italian apartment, musing about life and aging before Celine picks up her guitar for the first time in years to join in on the porch sing-a-longs. With everyone stuck inside for the time being, Linklater could even start secretly shoot something like that now. But for now, a fourth Before movie is still completely unconfirmed.