Ethan Hawke’s career reads like the syllabus of a high school English class — “Great Expectations,” “Hamlet” and “White Fang” all make the list of classic novel adaptations he’s helped bring to life onscreen. And in a way, that’s exactly why the actor took the role of Starbuck in Encore’s new mini-series, “Moby Dick,” airing Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m.
“It’s great material,” he shrugged while promoting the project at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Friday. “I also felt like it was time to be done again. It’s a great story that kind of needs to be told, and the script is really great. Nigel [Williams] wrote a wonderful script. He figured out a way to tell the story that felt fresh to me, and I was happy to be part of it.”
Willams’ version of the story spends time with Captain Ahab (William Hurt) off the Pequod, delving into the home life of the revenge-seeking whaler and bringing his wife (Gillian Anderson) into the picture to attempt to humanize the character.
“I think what we’ve tried to do is to put in more of the novel,” Willams says. “This is a colossal, colossal book in which there is recipes for clam chowder, [details on] how to drain a whale of blood. There is family life. There is the passion of seafaring. So there’s always another element that you can get into a version of this classic novel.”