Clockwise from top left: Penguin Random House, Alfred A. Knopf, Simon & Schuster, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Knopf, HarperCollins
Many actors end up trying their hand as novelists or short story writers — a not totally inconsistent side career, considering that their work often immerses them in fictional worlds, and some are also screenwriters. But some are more successful at it than others.
The latest celebrity fiction comes from Ethan Hawke, 50, the Boyhood actor who was nominated for two Oscars as cowriter of the Richard Linklater films Before Sunset and Before Midnight (and won an AARP Movies for Grownups award for the latter). He also helped create and write and stars in the 2020 Showtime miniseries The Good Lord Bird, for which he has been nominated for a Movies for Grownups best actor award. And he wrote a 2015 novel, Rules for a Knight.
Now he’s penned an excellent full-length novel, A Bright Ray of Darkness, that’s so personal it almost reads like a memoir. Its leading man is a 32-year-old Hollywood hotshot named William Harding, who takes on his first Broadway role, Hotspur in Henry IV (the same role Hawke played in 2003), in an attempt to redeem himself from a failing marriage, distant kids and a fracturing mental state. It’s smart and entertaining — a vivid insider look at celebrity, moviemaking, and the theater world.
Other fiction by actors runs the gamut, from wonderful to kind of weird. Here’s a roundup: