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This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

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The Movie John Hawkes Has 'Seen A Million Times'

Dec 22, 2012
Originally published on December 22, 2012 7:28 pm

The weekends on All Things Considered series Movies I've Seen A Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.

For actor John Hawkes, whose credits include Deadwood, Me And You And Everyone We Know, Winter's Bone and The Sessions, currently in theaters, the movie he could watch a million times is Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life.

Interview Highlights

On when he saw the film for the first time

"I saw It's A Wonderful Life the first time when I was on the road doing a play. It was a two-man show and my cast mate Brent Briscoe kept saying, 'You've got to see It's A Wonderful Life.' It happened to come on television and he called me and I went to his hotel room and we sat and watched it, and I was pretty blown away and I've introduced many people to it since."

On why he loves It's A Wonderful Life

"I think the film is often viewed by those who haven't seen it or only seen it once as some sort of perfect little fairy tale, but it is a dark piece and it blends drama and humor in such a delightful way."

On how the movie influenced him

"Jimmy Stewart is such a wonderful actor for anyone to observe. He's got such a wide range in that film and he's not afraid of the darkness. He doesn't care about, obviously, looking good at all times or being a movie star the whole time he's on screen. He's a very human character. Jimmy Stewart's performance is so brave it reminded me early on before I'd ever been in films that if I ever had a chance to go as deep as I could as an actor into a role, to try to disappear into it and to not be afraid of the result."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



On this program, we've been asking filmmakers about the movies they never get tired of watching, the ones they could watch over and over again, including this one from one of the stars of the TV show "Deadwood."

JOHN HAWKES: Hi, my name is John Hawkes, and I am an actor. And the movie I've seen a million times is "It's a Wonderful Life," directed by Frank Capra and starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.


H.B. WARNER: (as Mr. Gower) I owe everything to George Bailey. Help him, dear Father.

HAWKES: I saw "It's a Wonderful Life" the first time when I was on the road doing a play. It was a two-man show, and my cast mate kept saying: You've got to see "It's a Wonderful Life." It happened to come on television, and he called me. And I went to his hotel room, and we sat and watched it. And I was pretty blown away, and I introduced many people to it since.


JAMES STEWART: (as George Bailey) Hello, Joseph. Trouble?

HAWKES: James Stewart is George Bailey, a guy who is down on his luck and has lost all the money that he has. And he's got a family to raise, and he's despondent, and he is suicidal.


STEWART: (as George Bailey) Dear Father in Heaven, I'm not a praying man, but if you're up there and you can hear me, show me the way.

HAWKES: His guardian angel points out to how different life would be to those around him had he not been around, had he not been born and lived his life.


HENRY TRAVERS: (as Clarence Odbody) Your brother, Harry Bailey, broke through the ice and was drowned at the age of 9.

STEWART: (as George Bailey) That's a lie. Harry Bailey went to war. He got the Congressional Medal of Honor. He saved the lives of every man on that transport.

TRAVERS: Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn't there to save them because you weren't there to save Harry.

HAWKES: I was struck by the darkness of the film. I think the film is often viewed by those who haven't seen it or only seen it once as some sort of perfect little fairytale. But it is a dark piece.


TRAVERS: (as Clarence Odbody) You see, George, you really had a wonderful life.

HAWKES: H.B. Warner plays a druggist named Mr. Gower.


ROBERT ANDERSON: (as Young George) Mr. Gower...

HAWKES: Young George has gotten a prescription to go deliver, and he actually realizes on the way over that he's bringing something that would probably kill the person. George brings it back to him.


WARNER: (as Mr. Gower) Didn't you hear what I said?

ANDERSON: (as Young George) Yes.

HAWKES: And Mr. Gower gets upset and hits him really hard on his ear, which George had injured when he was a kid. And you could see that it hurts young George a great deal. But when Mr. Gower realizes what - his mistake and that George has basically saved him from murdering someone, he makes right with George in a really tender way that 15, 20 minutes into the movie has me in tears.


ANDERSON: (as Young George) Don't hurt sore ear again. Don't hurt my sore ear again.

WARNER: (as Mr. Gower) Oh, George, George.

HAWKES: You know, Jimmy Stewart's performance is so brave. He's got such a wide range in that film, and he's not afraid of the darkness. It reminded me early on, before I'd ever been in films, that if I ever had a chance to try to go as deep as I could as an actor into a role to try to disappear into it and to not be afraid of the results.


KAROLYN GRIMES: (as Zuzu Bailey) Look, daddy. Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.

STEWART: (as George Bailey) That's right.

RAZ: That's actor John Hawkes talking about the movie he could watch a million times, Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life." Hawkes received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor for his role in "The Sessions.


UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) We'll take a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.